What The Coronavirus Is Teaching Business Owners About Taking Things Online In 2021

Scenic Medias Team
March 16, 2020

The coronavirus has been officially named as a “Global Pandemic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Countries all around the world are shutting schools, gyms, restaurants and pretty much any public places where groups of people can gather, in an event to stop the spread of the virus. There is no doubt that this virus is affecting businesses as well, with many having to shut their doors permanently due to lack of customers.

But there is one thing that the coronavirus is showing all business owners, and that is a multiplier effect on what was already a trend towards online buying behavior vs. offline. If you own a business or have strong influence over one, now is the time to really rethink how your business is investing in online strategies and digital marketing, and whether or not you are prepared for this shift, that is now going to happen a lot sooner than later. 

us ecommerce online and in store sales
US Online & In-store Sales As a % Of Total Retail Spend, 2010-2019


Whether your products are specifically designed for the in-store/in-house experience or not, now is the time to think about how your business can evolve to survive in this fast changing dynamic. Take restaurants as an example. What is the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for restaurants?

Firstly, restaurants are being told to close their physical locations, thus forcing them to switch to delivery services to provide customers with their orders. This puts a huge reliance on the restaurants ability to reach customers using online methods and marketing. The restaurants that have built a good online presence on social media and are already investing in marketing such as facebook ads will have no problem reaching customers in their local area still. Why? Because they can let their online audience know they have switched to home delivery. They can inform people on how they are implementing effective hygiene practices when making and delivering food to their customers and promote offers to encourage people to still order. Takeaway.com has introduced “no contact home delivery” where the courier will ring your doorbell/knock on your door and leave the food outside your door. For businesses, the coronavirus outbreak is a test of survival and adaptation. How well can your business adapt its usual service delivery to cater for the current case of restricted living?

Buying trends have already been showing, for a while now, that buying behaviour is moving more and more towards online purchases. If this current pandemic proves anything, it is that many many businesses are still not investing enough resources and money into their online marketing strategies. Every business should have a website, social media, email list and method for customer support. The question is, “If your business was to close its physical location, would it still be able to serve customers?” If the answer is no, then it is time to rethink the benefits of investing in your businesses online presence.

With the right tone, posture and approach, it is still appropriate to market your business during the coronavirus crisis. If you a struggling to think of how your business can benefit during these difficult times, here are the top five things to consider when marketing your business during the coronavirus crisis:


  1. Show how you’re providing resources, education and support to your employees and customers.
  2. Embrace your leadership role and provide consistent updates on your progress and also share your business continuity plan. It could be helpful to others.
  3. Leverage your media partners by providing tips and insights into what you’re seeing in the market.
  4. Using the right tone and posture, maintain, if not increase, your presence using trusted local media platforms.
  5. According to Jim Houck, check your pre-scheduled social media posts. Make sure they match the tone of the current environment.

Over the coming weeks and potentially months, we are going to see an influx in the amount of social media users. This is expected as people start to move their lives into their homes. Successful brands are adapting quickly to their customers' change in lifestyle and priorities. They’re catering for their isolation not only with services that make their lives easier, but make their lives more entertaining. Companies like Netflix are a great example of this, as more people turn to their TV’s and smart devices for entertainment. 

While there may be a downturn in customer spending, there is an increase in customer touch points and attention. Use this time to grow your social media audience, educate them on what your business offers and when the time is right, start promoting your products and services again. For the most part and for most businesses, right now is the time to buckle down, rethink, strategise and plan for the future.

Your online presence is now your retail storefront!

“We’re already seeing additional markets enter the threshold of “restricted living.” As patterns begin to emerge in response to news events of this nature, it will be imperative for companies to learn from these scenarios so they can sustain growth even in times where COVID-19 has uprooted people’s lives. These patterns will help provide leading and trailing indicators to those trying to understand how people will respond as developments continue to play out at different times in different countries,” – Nielsen’s Global Intelligence leader Scott McKenzie


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