The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on our lives in so many ways. Many of us have experienced lockdowns and this is ongoing in many countries as governments battle to keep the spread of the virus under control. Lockdowns have had, and continue to have, a severe impact on the ability of many businesses to operate. However, these enforced slowdowns to our normal lives can also have positive outcomes. Let’s look at three things business owners can do to set their businesses up for success after they finally emerge from lockdown.
Study Your Competition
As business owners we are often so busy with our own businesses that we have little time to think about what our competitors might be doing. I must admit that I kept more of an eye on my competitors in the early stages with my business and less so as the business developed. But there’s always something we can learn by studying our competitors, both in terms of what they do well and in terms of what they don’t do so well.
The starting point for studying your competition is to find out who they are. Depending on your industry, this may be extremely obvious. If not, you can start by searching the internet using search terms which might be used by potential customers. This will provide you right away with a list of your competitors. Then browse their websites to glean as much information as possible about how they operate. What services do they offer? How do they market themselves? What’s their pricing model? What do they promise their customers? And very importantly, what is your point of difference from them?
As you browse your competitors’ websites you should be able to pick up some tips, and you should also be able to find things you don’t do and realise that you are doing better. This can be very gratifying. Learn what you can and then implement any changes you need to in order to outshine your competition in the future.
Take Additional Training
When we’re flat-out running our businesses, we may not feel that we have the time to prioritise training. However, an enforced lockdown presents us with the opportunity to take time to think about what training could be useful. It also presents us with the time required to take such training. The days of face-to-face training may be over, as new ways of learning have arisen. Many training courses are now available online and can be taken entirely at the participant’s own pace. Others are available using Zoom or other video conferencing software.
What additional training might be useful for you or members of your team? What gaps do they have in their knowledge? In what areas would you like them to develop? In my own business I’ve taken the opportunity to gain additional certifications in IT (Information Technology), and also in Digital Marketing. The great thing about taking self-paced courses online is that the costs involved are much lower than those involved in doing face-to-face training. In some cases they might even be free.
Review Your Digital Marketing
Practically any startup business needs to use the internet in order to market and establish themselves. In many cases business owners will entrust their digital marketing to an outside agency and take little hands-on approach to what’s being implemented on their behalf. This was the case with myself when I first started my business and signed a search engine optimisation (SEO) contract with an agency. I must admit though that I have mostly had a more hands-on approach to my digital marketing and I actually terminated my contract with that particular company fairly quickly after they failed to deliver on my expectations.
Being in an enforced lockdown gives you the perfect opportunity to take a step back and review your digital marketing strategy. You may have different elements in your strategy, including SEO, search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing (SMM). Any or all of these are things you can do in-house, or place in the hands of a specialist. Either way there are some questions you can ask as you begin to review your approach.
Is your SEO strategy resulting in increasing rankings on the search engine results pages (SERP’s)? More importantly, is it resulting in leads for your business?
Are you getting value for money and a satisfactory return on your investment from your SEM campaign?
Do you have a clear strategy for the content you post on social media, or is your approach rather haphazard?
You may find that your digital marketing strategy is rather poorly defined and that a more concentrated approach to your target market is required. You may realise that your digital marketing/SEO agency isn’t providing value for you, in which case you’ll need to discuss how things can be improved, or look for an alternative agency. Alternatively you might consider whether you have the skills to bring any of your digital marketing in-house.
The three principles I’ve described here are all things which I’ve implemented in my own business during lockdown, and which have set me up for future success. What can you learn from your competitors? What additional training can you undertake to upskill yourself and your team? And what changes might need to be made to your digital marketing strategy? Take some time to consider each of these elements, take the necessary actions, and then look forward to a successful future for your business.