Riding the digital wave – taking business online

21 July 2020 Tenaka

“Is your business online?”

This is one of the most loaded business questions of the digital age. Once upon a time (not too long ago), it meant: do you have a website? Later, it came to include social media, or doing a blog. The question really just meant, do you have an online presence. However, thanks to a little global pandemic, that question now carries a whole lot more meaning.

Most regular office workers embraced the sudden, unexpected move to remote work with varying degrees of success and buy-in. However, many small businesses, entrepreneurs and other workers couldn’t make this switch quite as simply as taking their laptop home. Many small businesses have been forced to close their doors, while others wait to get to work. Those who have found an innovative, creative way to leverage the power of online communications, however, have not only survived, but in many cases, thrived. Here are a few of our favourite examples of people embracing the online marketplace.

No gym? No problem

It’s a well known fact of life that regular exercise is good for you. To this end, many people use the services of personal trainers, attend classes like Zumba or Pilates, or participate in dancing, martial arts and more. For these people, and others who can’t visit gyms, lock down took away their primary means of getting their much needed exercise. To combat this, personal trainers, dance teachers, martial arts instructors and many more simply went online.

Some of the methods and platforms used have included: video conferencing to teach live group or private classes; pre-recorded YouTube videos on a private access channel; one-on-one consultations to work out lock down-specific, home-based exercise routines; and some are using social media to its fullest effect, by posting workouts, tips and eating guides on their Instagram, Facebook and other accounts. You can even find online fitness classes on some popular online education platforms.

The take-away: Just because you think your business can’t go online, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Think creatively about the platforms available to you – you’d be amazed at what you can achieve. Don’t just look at the best-known platforms; look at what others in your industry are using and doing, and think of new and innovative ways to do business.

Mind over body

Spiritual, mental and emotional well being have also taken a serious knock as a result of lock downs. People around the world are under even more stress than normal, but are unable to access their usual methods of fulfilling these needs, like church, therapy or support groups. Fortunately, thanks to the wide range of technologies available to them, those whose job it is to keep our inner selves healthy have been able to keep in touch.

Various spiritual leaders have adopted various methods of keeping lines of communication open with their congregations and beyond. Some have used the same video conferencing software that we use daily for work. Others have used streaming, youtube, and even podcasting to bring their message to homes. Many therapists – including psychiatrists, speech therapists, addiction counsellors and support groups – have also turned to meeting apps to make sure people keep receiving quality care.

The take-away: Keeping in touch with your customers and clients has never been easier. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t reach out virtually and help them. Even the most traditionally in-person spaces have found a niche online, thanks to the plethora of communications apps, and your business is no different.

The art of content

The online space has certainly been the domain of musicians, writers, actors and artists of all kinds since pretty much the start. Lock down, however, has resulted in an explosion of content creation. In South Africa, especially, many of our more traditional artists and musicians have happily made the switch and started gaining significant followings online.

Musician and social activist, The Kiffness, has been regaling everyone with his lockdown parodies of various famous songs, as well as a few more controversial social comments in song form. Other musicians whose live gigs were cancelled have, instead, performed those same gigs on social media streaming. Elsewhere, artists and galleries have hosted virtual tours.

The take-away: Content is about more than just adding a blog to your website. Content is about giving people something more, something extra, that fills a gap. So what if you’re a factory – why not produce satisfying videos of your machines functioning, or a podcast about your industry? It’s incredible what people find interesting to watch, read about and listen to… and their hunger for quality content is just growing.

Outdoors indoors

South Africans are, in general, quite fond of our country’s natural beauty – and we are not alone. Parks, reserves, zoos and sanctuaries have found themselves without visitors during lock downs. This has resulted in lost revenue for them, and the frustration of being unable to visit for the public.

Many nature adventure operators, therefore, have been hosting virtual tours and game drives and uploading video content. They are even offering courses and classes for those with an interest in nature.The best thing? All these wondrous places around the world that are finally available to those who could never before hope to see them, due to distance and cost.

The take-away: Make yourself available for people to find, and make it as easy as possible for them to find and engage with you. When taking your business online, it shouldn’t be seen as just a way to get email addresses for your mailing list, or hits on your website. It should be a dedicated, unique communication method to welcome, engage with and sell to your customers.

We face a lot of uncertainty over how long lock downs will last, and what the lasting impacts of Covid-19 will be. But what is certain, is that our traditional ways of doing business and interacting have fundamentally changed. For many, the sheer convenience of having anything from your weekly church service to your Pilates class to a drive through Kruger, all from the comfort of home, will inevitably mean that these are our new normal.

At Tenaka, we make lives better, bringing about positive change to customer and employee experience through human-centred design. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.

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