What has the Pandemic Changed in the World of Business?

Due to the Pandemic, so many businesses have been forced to change, adapt, or completely morph into something else. I look back and don’t recognize half the businesses I was already accustomed to.

By now, we’re used to buying our groceries just by scrolling through an app, we flash our smartphones at QR codes for menus and check-ins, and we, literally, have no cash on us. For me, It’s already rattling my squirrel cage when a store prefers eWallets to cold, hard cash.

Befuddling. 

Everyone’s talking about how the Pandemic has hit their lives and changed them forever. How can we ever forget how we have to live indoors for close to a year (and more), going out fearing for our lives, and constantly being on the lookout for those Pandemic patrols lurking around for stray renegades everywhere?

We’ve lived a year and a half trying our best to stay away from each other. Businesses and economies are crumbling. How are we ever going to get back up on our feet again after this?

Here’s a dig at what the COVID-19 Pandemic has done to businesses. I think I’ve written something about how this Virus is going to change the world of retail and mom-and-pop businesses some time ago, but here’s what really changed in the time since the world went on lockdown, half lockdowns, back into lockdown, and half-ass lockdowns.

things to do to get your business online

1 – Almost All Businesses Are Now Online

It’s no longer an option – almost every business that can is now online. The sidewalk fried banana seller you patronize every morning before work is now trying to sell food through an app, letting the app shave away a chunk of their profit.

They’ve got to keep their heads above the water and, please, let them.  

So, if you’re not already online, put your ears to the ground and listen out for cues. They’ll tell you where your customers are and how you can present yourself to your current customers and many other potential others.

Things You Can Do Now

  1. Find a Content Management System (CMS) you can work with
  2. Investing in and building your business a website or eCommerce site
  3. Put your products up on marketplaces
  4. Get help if you’re not familiar with it
  5. Learn basic designing and web development
  6. Understand what customer journey is all about
  7. Perform basic SEO without crossing the black hat line

2 – Social Media and Online Advertising

There are ads everywhere and it is friggin’ annoying. And on social media, we see sales pitches that are either compelling or nauseatingly suffocating. There’s nothing I can do about it. On the flip side, I also see more people have the right digital marketing concepts baked into their systems, which is encouraging.

Small businesses are beginning to evolve the way they should have many years ago. It didn’t really have to take a devastating Pandemic but it did. 

In fact, I think small businesses have more bandwidth to do things right. Radios are giving them airtime for exposure, Facebook groups are catering to small business owners, and more people are lending their support to them because they’re not on a level playing field. 

Big businesses or even startups are getting funds to actually pump more money into advertising, be it social media or search engines. I just hope everyone’s trying to do it right.

Me? I’m still trying to figure out Tiktok. #lol

Things You Can Do Now

  1. Find the right social media platform
  2. Be where your customers are
  3. Watch your competitors
  4. Prepare videos and images
  5. Find trending keywords and hashtags (or create your own)
  6. Keep it updated once a week
  7. Get personal
get online to where your customers are

3 – eCommerce Experts Everywhere

This is like…wow…it feels like the Gold Rush…except for the fact that hunger is chasing you down.  

Everyone’s trying to get on some kind of marketplace. In other parts of the world, we’re all familiar with the world of Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, and Alibaba

Here in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia, almost everyone, big and small companies alike, are dipping their toes into putting up their products on platforms like Taobao, AliExpress, Lazada, Lelong, Shopee, or Mudah.

The problem is now this – these online marketplaces are now saturated with products from everywhere. It’s hard to find a reliable seller offering a genuine product with an authentic warranty/guarantee, and the number of options makes decision-making hard.

We now have too many options and it’s ambiguous.

It doesn’t help either that people don’t spend as much time as they used to write their product descriptions right. Because of the intense competition and algorithm, keyword stuffing is BACK!

Things You Can Do Now

  1. Find a marketplace you think your products can sell
  2. Learn up the rules of the marketplace
  3. Watch your competitors and see what they’re doing
  4. Optimize everything about your listings to make them come up more in searches
  5. Don’t spam
  6. Prepare explanation, videos, images, and product descriptions
  7. Respond to queries as quickly as you can

4 – Doing The Digital Marketing Thing

Granted, building a website or creating a social media account are no-brainer tasks. Well, if you’re used to one content management system, you’ll probably learn how to quickly work the kinks out with simple tweaks and plugins.

Although ad-buying and keyword research are still a little tough for novice marketers, it’s not too hard. As long as you’re not throwing money away on ads that are not going to bring in the right customers or spending too much on Facebook ads targeting the wrong people, go ahead and try them out. 

Budget-wise, give yourself enough breathing and wiggle room.

SEO is still tricky and I suspect Google is going to bring back tougher penalties and changes in the future because of the sharp rise in the number of websites and content.

Things You Can Do Now

  1. Set a budget
  2. Decide on the copy and visuals you’d like to use
  3. Learn up some of the platform’s rules on advertising
  4. Start small, experiment, watch how they’re performing
  5. Always be prepared for change

5 – Writing For Whom, Again?

Apart from a sudden surge in vacancies for digital marketing specialists, SEO marketers, social media managers, and eCommerce experts, there’s also a huge demand for writers.

I’ve just had a quick catchup with a bunch of oldie writers and we wish there were better writers out there. Writing is an art, a profession, a creative expression, an outlet, and also a form of entertainment and education.

We hope future writers out there will uphold the integrity of writers and do what’s right by not just the readers’ expectations but also search engines.

What You Can Do Now

  1. Understand the kind of language your customers like and can connect to
  2. Practice writing
  3. Take up a course or find a mentor who can get you started
  4. Make mistakes and learn from them
  5. Try different writing styles
  6. Perform keyword research
  7. Find questions your customers are asking
  8. Keep it simple unless it is a technical piece
don't be afraid of making mistakes

6 – Working Google Analytics and Adwords

You don’t need to be a data scientist to learn how to use Adwords and understand Analytics. According to the world we live in today, YouTube and Google know and can teach you everything, anyway.

Those are not my words but these are the things people are telling me. 

Analytics helps you understand what kind of traffic you’re getting with your website, where they’re landing and taking off. If you’ve taken the time to develop top-quality content, surely you’d want to know how people are taking them.

It is also a tool where you can set your goals for Adwords. 

For instance, you can use the data to set goals for reaching new quality website visitors, convert visitors into customers, get people to read beyond 5 of your web pages, retain a certain percentage of your readers, get a certain number of inquiries or calls, or obtain a percentage of signups for your ebook or counseling program.

The important thing is not just looking at the data, but analyzing them and knowing what to do with it.

What You Can Do Now

  1. Sign up for an account
  2. Place Google’s code in the CMS you’re using
  3. Explore the multiple tools and data Analytics and Adwords presents you with
  4. Be prepared to be confused and then understand
  5. Change things up with multiple campaigns
  6. Keep things within budget and pause campaigns before you start throwing money down the drain
  7. Neil Patel has a really great, simply-written guide for Google Adwords and you can start with that

7 – Google My Business (GMB)

With the Pandemic raging on like wildfire, there’s all the more reason for real businesses to update their websites, blogs, social media platforms, and Business Profiles on Google

Before COVID-19 Pandemic, people were already using Google to find places they can visit or find reviews before patronizing a restaurant or visiting a store.

Now, with almost everyone locked up and time is of the essence, there is a need to keep your Google My Business profile updated. People want to know if your store is open or closed, if you have an offer, what they can find in your store, what customers are saying about your retail outlet, your contact, what are your social media profiles.

It’s the only compass they have right now, let’s think of it this way. 

Google is taking it so seriously in an effort to keep consumers updated that they’ve created a new “Temporarily Closed” tag due to the Pandemic. So, if you have a retail outlet, store, or restaurant, don’t forget to update your Google Business Profile to keep consumers updated.

What You Can Do Now

  1. Set up your Google My Business profile
  2. Start updating it with the latest information
  3. Verify your business via your preferred mode, be it physically via postcard, text, or email
  4. Continue to update your GMB profile whenever you have something worth noting

8 – Consumers and Businesses Are Going Mobile

Not only are more consumers using their smartphones for making payments, searching for stores, navigating to the nearest clinic, finding information/updates about their favorite restaurants, they’re also using it to find mobile businesses.

Since we are discouraged from gathering or crowding indoors, businesses have taken it outdoors, mobile, and contactless. We’ve never seen as many “contactless” and “curbside” businesses as now. 

It’s an option where customers can order your stuff online or over the phone and have it either delivered directly to them or picked up at a predetermined location.

As much as you are looking to keep your business alive, consumers are also looking for ways to find their favorite stores and brands as easily as possible without the incremental risk of going to your store. Yes, consumers are also looking for ways to keep to their familiar normal amidst this new, confusing norm.

Personally, I’ve never thought the day would come when people would reject my cash…but they did, asking for electronic transfer or eWallet payments instead. They’re not wrong. Accordingly, contaminated cash can transport the live flu virus for up to 17 days. That’s a pretty scary thought.

Things You Can Do Now

  1. Connect with your customers online
  2. Set up a schedule for pick-ups, deliveries, or online appointments
  3. Find out how you can collect payment online or via eWallets
  4. Location. Be where your customers are
embrace the new world of online remote teams

9 – The Remote Work Revolution

I’ve always talked about remote work, the feasibility of working with talents from all across the world, and the viability of working remotely. That’s because I’ve been doing it for ages and I know that with the right mindset, discipline, rules, and people, it is possible.

The essential ingredient in this cauldron is actually commitment and dedication.  

Now, with the Pandemic, normally resistant businesses are forced to adapt to the world that I live in and it’s confusing. The way people approach their jobs, I dare say, has been changed forever.

For example, if someone’s discovered the wonders of WiFi, you can’t undo that. They’re forever going to long for WiFi. 

However, the evolution of the remote world has been steadily growing alongside the internet. Granted, many jobs cannot and should not be done remotely, but a lot of things are going to change from hereon. Maintaining a remote team is no easy task – this I will admit. It’s stressful when there are looming deadlines, a flurry of questions, unresponsive teammates, and a drastic push for both survival and reaching new goals.

It’s hard but not impossible.

Things You Can Do Now

  1. Have a morning daily huddle with your team
  2. Reduce the number of meetings to the bare necessities
  3. Use online tools to keep projects under control
  4. Set deadlines and keep everyone to it
  5. Resist the urge to hover
  6. Drill down on online hours, and respect offline ones
  7. Help. Provide teammates without necessary equipment or amenities for online work

Conclusion

Yes, with this Pandemic hitting us so hard, everyone’s losing business except for the few who are thriving because being mobile and online is already at the core of their business. Being online with your business is the only way to stop this apocalypse.

In Malaysia, at the point of writing, our economy is taking a hit because we’re under (yet) another lockdown where most businesses are finding it hard to keep afloat. You can soften the blow to your brick-and-mortar business by being innovative in finding ways to get to your customers, which is now online.

We’re all dealing with the same thing – we’re all cutting back on overheads, investing in things we think are essential to keeping the business from sinking, and learning new ways to make a traditional business work.

With these basic things, I hope you’ll have it in you to see past the potentially bleak outlook of the future.

Published by Marsha Maung

I am a freelance writer, copywriter, blogger, social media and online advertising consultant. On the other side of my Universe is a life of being a mother to 2 boys who are always ravenous or mean to each other. They love each other, but if I say that, they'll kill each other. I have been in the internet world since 2000 when I started off with a couple of dot-bombs but they've served me well. Right now, I primarily write for blogs and learning heaps about the ever-evolving world of social media and search engine marketing. Hit me up and we can learn together! Life is better together.

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