The Coronavirus epidemic has upended businesses across the globe. As companies scramble to maintain a semblance of their previously bustling business activities, many have opted to shift as many of their operations to the cloud as possible.
If your company is attempting this transition to a remote work platform and online marketing strategy with little-to-no prior preparation, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to help things go as smoothly as possible in the weeks and months ahead.
Create Air-Tight Internal Operations First
Everything from finding workflow and communication tools to shifting to a remote onboarding model and even addressing little details like setting up a system for legal electronic signatures should be addressed before you begin engaging with customers online. Considerations to help you establish a smooth internal workflow right from the get-go include the following:
- Communication: Look for tools like Zoom, Slack, and Gmail to help your team remain in close contact on a regular basis. Choose specific products that suit your needs and have your team become comfortable with how each one works.
- Collaboration: Google Suite is an excellent source of easy-to-share documentation. You can also utilize workflow platforms like Trello and Asana to keep everyone on the same page.
- Onboarding and training: Make sure to create clear resources that provide how-to videos, instructional documents, and any other resources that your team may need, even in a remote work situation.
- A Remote Hierarchy: Remote work is classically decentralized, but without a proper authority structure in place, it can quickly slip into chaos. Make sure to explain who is in charge, delineate who reports to whom, and strive to walk that line between being a pushover and a tyrant as you manage things remotely.
If you can kick off your remote operations with these areas addressed, you’ll be able to enjoy the advantages of a structured approach while simultaneously reaping the benefits of a remote work environment.
Set Up Your Online Marketing Collateral
When it comes to marketing online, it’s important to establish your digital marketing collateral before you begin engaging with potential customers:
- Create a solid, user-friendly website that can serve as the hub of your marketing and e-commerce activities.
- Develop a company blog as part of your website to post quality content and cultivate a reputation as an authority in your field.
- Establish an email list. To compliment that, create a free piece of digital content that you can offer to those who sign up for your email list.
- Set up social media profiles on platforms where your core demographics congregate the most often.
As you develop these pieces of marketing material, make sure to set up analytical tools like Google Analytics. Then utilize testing in production methods to actively monitor your live content and ensure that it is performing as expected.
Compile a Digital Code of Conduct
It’s important to set up a structure and clear guidelines for how you want your employees to operate online, especially when performing customer-facing activities. This serves multiple purposes.
First, it can help to prevent any moral or ethical dilemmas you may run into by curbing any loose-lipped employees from expressing personal opinions in the name of your company. Second, it can provide a sense of consistency to the voice, tone, expression, and presentation of your online brand. A code of conduct helps your company present itself in a recognizable and reliable manner across all of your online communication channels.
Redirect Your Marketing Efforts in Creative Ways
Once you have your internal operations and code of conduct in place, it’s time to redirect your marketing efforts into an online strategy. For some companies this is simple. For instance, a retailer who has already sold some inventory online must simply scale their e-commerce operations into 100% of their retail activity.
For others, however, the transition to online marketing can be a challenge, one that requires creativity to solve. Many restaurants, for instance, have found ways to do business digitally by marketing and taking orders online and then offering curbside pickup. Even Waffle House found a way to generate some income by offering its waffle mix online — a tactic that was so successful that the company sold out in a few hours.
Another great example of a creative marketing pivot can be found in the sports world, which, traditionally a brick-and-mortar operation, ground to a halt when the COVID-19 epidemic showed on the scene. In response, it shifted to a heavy dependence on its athletic communication wing by utilizing sports marketing managers, journalists, and broadcasters to help engage with their audiences via online communication channels.
The point is, just because your industry doesn’t naturally lend itself to an e-commerce model doesn’t mean you’re stuck. There are likely many ways that you can get creative in order to generate sales, get to know your audience, and spark some buzz for your brand on the internet.
Successfully Transitioning Online
While it can be challenging, there’s no reason why your brand can’t adapt itself to an online format. The important thing is that you don’t go the way of companies like Toys ‘R’ Us and fail to adapt to your surroundings. You have to play the hand that life gives you, and in the business world, a failure to react to the cards you’re dealt can quickly lead to a situation where your company atrophies or, if left long enough, fails completely.
Instead, tackle the situation head-on. Look for ways to adjust your business operations to a cloud-based, remote alternative, and then pull out those problem-solving skills you bragged about on your resume to keep your company alive and well in the uncertain times ahead.
Magnolia Potter is a blogger from the Pacific Northwest. She loves writing on a variety of topics from technology to lifestyle. When she isn’t writing you can find her traveling far and wide or reading a good book.