How to get your business online during COVID-19

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How to get your business online during COVID-19

I was recently able to sit in on an interesting webinar, hosted by Family Business Association Atlantic, about getting your business online (quickly) during the Coronavirus pandemic. As you might imagine, some of the lessons learned can be transposed across different times and scenarios (not only COVID-19) and shall still offer a benefit to you and your business. Going online didn’t start with the pandemic - it simply became vital to the existence of a whole lot of businesses during it.

Mike Hayes, our very own Chief Marketing Officer, shared a timeless and very relevant outlook into getting your business online. He brought in one of our own clients, Emily Tregunno, co-owner of Halifax Seed, Canada’s oldest continuously-operating family-owned seed company. We got a chance to hear from her, and how in a time where most businesses slowed down (or even halted completely) Halifax Seed grew with the help of their online transformation.

What does “getting online” mean?

To a lot of businesses, it is as simple as “being where your customers are”. It is no secret that over time (even more during this pandemic) we have become more and more connected. This leads to us becoming accustomed to a vast amount of information in the palm of our hands. Being online is just that - making sure that when a customer looks for what you do, for how you’re doing it, or even to connect with you directly - that the information does present itself easily, timely and clearly.

Mike also went over a few other specific reasons why you should be online:

  • Help customers find you (address location and directions)
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you (phone, email or even an online chat)
  • Build your list of prospective customers
  • Sell your products and services
  • Display your offer amongst your competition

Once you know what being online means to your business where do you start?

Here are the 3 bases you need to cover:

  • Google My Business: Creating your listing here will allow you to verify and edit the information displayed by Google in searches that are relevant to your business. It’s the easy way for you to control how your business comes up in the giant search engine.
  • Your own webpage: This one holds unlimited possibilities. It is the same as owning your own retail location- with the exception that it can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. Whether you’ll be selling your products, telling your business’ story, or simply showing your customers the best ways to get in contact with you, it is very valuable to own your little piece of the web. Alternatively (or additionally!) there are Directory websites (like the Chamber of Commerce and other industry associations) or Shopping websites (like eBay, Etsy or Amazon).
  • Social Media: your customers are already online - just find out where! At virtually no cost, it is a huge value add to create your own account and make sure your business is found exactly where your customers spend their time.

But how can I do it fast & cheap?

Think getting your own website has to be expensive? Think again.

You can get yourself started with some easy to use platforms that start as low as... free! You can, in most cases, find a solution in platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, or Shopify. If you’re not sure you can do it yourself you could lean on some other resources, like family and friends, or perhaps take a look at hiring a student to help you out.

If you have the funds to invest in your business and want to make sure your online presence is on brand, current and effective, you could also hire a professional marketing firm such as *ahem* ourselves. 🔥

What else do I need to know?

Okay, great, let me get started right away... oh, wait a second!

During the discussion between Mike and Emily, a huge pain point of integrating an online solution to your business was brought up: it is not all about the technology. Emily shared her experience managing the behind the scenes of a brick and mortar business that quickly got their online shop up and running and saw massive results. And, while you may think: Presto! Great! Online sales went through the roof! In reality, she was forced to rethink the whole operation and personnel strategy to keep up with such demand while keeping in mind that the safety of her employees and customers was paramount. As Mike said, it all boils down to:

PEOPLE ● PROCESS ● TECHNOLOGY

Clearly, when going online you must consider these in order to do it such form that it complements, integrates and seamlessly agrees with how your business operates behind the scenes. When done right, technology can make you, your employees and your customers lives a whole lot easier. If technology becomes a hurdle it will defeat its purpose.

You did it! But, umm, did you make it easy?

Last but not least...

When looking at your online solution you must ask yourself: is it easy for my customers?

- Can they do what they need to do with just one click?
- Can they easily find and select the option that automatically prompts them to a phone call?
- Is there an accurate
map that provides useful directions?
- Click to buy? Repeat my last order? Show me the ‘best sellers’? Any reviews?

If you try to answer some of these golden questions you might come to realize how you can easily improve your customers' online experience tenfold.

Oh and there's some more- I also put together a guide that summarized the webinar with the bonus of some extra resources that were mentioned in it. You can get it RIGHT HERE.