Recent ‘Shelter in Place’ restrictions and employee safety precautions have forced businesses to make necessary adjustments to survive the current economic circumstances. Many physical stores and showrooms are suffering the consequences of government regulations related to the temporary lockdown as well as lack of customers caused by self-isolation.
Although the situation escalated quicker than anyone anticipated and left many people and companies unprepared, there are ways you can adapt your business activities to avoid the darkest scenario of turning a temporary break into a permanent case. Let's delve deeper.
A majority of businesses have moved their operations to remote work, but not all of them are experiencing the challenges showrooms and stores are facing. Many companies that rely on in-store/showroom businesses are being hit the hardest as revenue streams are obsolete and they still have employees and rent to pay. COVID-19 changed everything within weeks and companies need to act faster. Here are some digital solutions that can replace in-person interactions.
Interactive catalogs give you the distinct advantage to showcase your product or services online and the ability for customers to interact with you digitally. Today’s shoppers are both engaged and savvy, and businesses know it’s important to be in touch with this type of consumer. A cross-platform digital catalog can strongly empower your brand identity, as well as present your offering through bespoke animations, videos, and attractive visuals.
Another option that's been growing in terms of development and inspiration is 3D virtual product showcases. Virtual reality is not only meant for gaming or amusement simulator activities, but it also allows a buyer to enter your website and let his or her imagination run wild while designing, customizing, and decorating on his own. In the context of interior design, this particular feature helps designers communicate their concepts to their clients.
As you can see, a visual presentation of your products is the key. It's difficult to replace the experience of seeing a product with your own eyes, but circumstances like these give a new perspective to the process of purchasing and demonstrate advantages of the digital age. For example, plenty of world-famous museums offer online tours you can take from the comfort of your living room. So, why not do the same with your own product line?
Interior designer and lifestyle blogger, Jill Seidner, gives a great example of how you can group your products and present them through attractive and appealing collections.
We’ve also seen brands like Frieling and Ferguson launch virtual showroom tours and virtual “trade show booth” visits. Incorporating such activities can help you keep momentum and conversation with your buyer base while continuing to sell products.
Additionally, virtual panels and free workshops are great ways to stay engaged with your target audience as well as providing them the value your brand offers. Companies like Universal Furniture are not letting canceled and postponed events stop their mission to provide the design community resources, which is why they are hosting a virtual market next month.
Strategic marketing focused on creating and distributing relevant and applicable content has never been more important, both in the competitive arena of today's business landscape and the recent COVID-19 situation. As a matter of fact, giving your target audience free high-quality content often serves as a differentiating factor than the quality of your product. In other words – content marketing can truly make you stand out amongst your competition.
An important--if not the most important feature to incorporate into your content marketing is blog posts linking back to your website. It's a great opportunity to attract potential clients, boost your organic SEO, and provide your target audience with interesting facts, useful tips, and fresh content capturing their attention. For example, an interior designer or furniture company will stand out with articles like ''9 things you must know when decorating your home office,'' rather than classic internet ads.
After starting a blog, another excellent way to help you improve your reach is amplifying your social media activities. As a first step, take a deep look into the habits of your target audience and choose a platform most suitable for your business' needs. For instance, don’t waste time or direct your efforts on a social media platform your target audience is not active on. For the home and lifestyle industries, we’ve found Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Youtube to be the most effective social platforms. Keep an eye on target audience demographics and other characteristics in order to find a platform where you can reach them the easiest.
The essential element when it comes to both blogging and social media is consistency – being present and distributing fresh, unique, and top-notch content on a regular basis will help you grow in reach and audience engagement. In other words, online communication is another important part of building a loyal and enthusiastic network of fans who rely on your content, now realizing you are not just there to sell products or services.time.
Did you know 63% of millennials have more trust in influencers than traditional brand ads? We’ve done a deep-dive into influencer marketing in a previous article, which is a type of marketing where you hire people with a highly engaged social media audience to drive your brand message to your target customer. Although influencer marketing is essentially ad placement of your product, native content created by influencers doesn’t come across as a blatant advertisement. Consumers choose to “follow” influencers for inspiration and know influencers have done the research before promoting a product or service. Choosing the right people who have in-depth knowledge about your subject can strengthen your credibility and bring your products closer to large loyal audience bases.
Efforts you would normally focus on related to your store or showroom should be redirected to building a stronger reputation online and boosting your social presence.
Unfortunately, many companies are in the process of relocating costs and cutting budgets when it comes to SEO since they believe it’s not a priority investment during a crisis. The truth is, SEO should be a marketing activity you’re consistently investing in; optimizing your website strengthens your online presence, which is an essential feature of your business to increase website traffic and drive sales.
First, prioritize keyword research and implementation. Next, comes optimizing your existing content and creating a new one that includes keywords your potential customers will search.
It’s hard to make predictions on when this entire situation will shift back to normal or a new kind of normal. It is unknown if we are facing a temporary health crisis that will be resolved in a matter of weeks, or if it's a condition we will have to permanently adjust to. Either way, the world is moving forward and the digital era necessitates sustaining your business online as your primary goal. While it’s true the circumstances aren’t perfect, good business was never about waiting for that anyway - it’s simply about making the best out of current resources and progressively adapting to our new reality.