Tips and advice on how to stay flexible in a time of change, why the investment is worth it, and what you can start doing today to keep your business afloat.
During times of great and unprecedented change, many businesses and individuals are under so much stress that it can seem impossible to see the bounty of opportunity that is laid before us. While it is true that these times can produce great suffering and loss, they also provide a clear picture of where you and your business should be headed, as well as a unique opportunity to pause and reflect; is this where I want to be? Could I be doing something amazing with all this unexpected time?
The team at Jezweb is in a position to help many of our clients through this period, with some of us old hat and familiar with working from home and optimising business for online success. We have collectively come up with some great tips on how you can capitalise on what we see as a fantastic opportunity for improvement!
Set yourself up a workspace at home
One of the biggest struggles people have with working from home is being unable to separate their home life, and their work life. What initially seems fun and relaxing, very quickly can devolve into stressful and unproductive. Psychologically, the mind prefers to have separation where different modes of operating are concerned. Inevitably people begin finding it hard to ‘switch off’ at home, because being at home becomes associated with being at work. The niggling sense that you should be doing something work related follows you all the way to bed at night – even if you did a full day’s work!
Setting yourself up a designated space at home with the equipment you need is the first step to success. Things to ask yourself:
· Do you have the right computer and software at home?
· Have you got an appropriate desk and ergonomically appropriate chair?
· Is the lighting in your workspace right for you?
· In lieu of a study, could you use something to privatise your workspace from the rest of the room?
· Have you communicated with your team and clients about any changes to operations, given your new work location?
If you still feel unsure of how you might best set yourself up to work from home – you’re not alone. While these prompts are food for thought, the team at Jezweb can help you choose the right kind of tools to work remotely with success. Give us a call and have a chat to one of our friendly experts, we’ve been working remotely for years!
Make a schedule, and stick to it!
It is especially hard to stick to a schedule when you’re working from home. Hitting snooze on the alarm clock is just too enticing, and some of you may also be working with the kids around to boot!
No matter your situation – you can write a schedule for it! Even if that includes working in split up blocks of time. In fact, working in 2-3 hour blocks has been proven to greatly improve productivity. This method also allows you to work with the natural rhythm of your household, and your own preferred routine.
Getting a large whiteboard or big printed calendar that everyone can see is great for setting up your schedule; everyone can see what needs to be happening at given times each day, and you have set yourself up a little accountability. Even if your schedule gets disrupted due to unforseen events, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for success in the first place.
Using the calendar function on your Outlook or similar online calendar can be especially good for personal monitoring. It can issue you alerts and reminders to keep you on track – or at least make you feel guilty if you’re taking an unplanned nap! It can also be heavily customised – colour coding, sharing with co-workers, recurring events, meeting invitations – the list goes on!
The bottom line is really that it doesn’t matter what your method is, what works for one person may not work for another. Perhaps a daily written ‘to do’ list is all you need. But whatever it is, write it down and use it – learning to be a better planner with improved discipline is a soft skill that will greatly benefit you down the line.
Review and plan your overall marketing strategy – is it appropriate for the current climate?
Carrying on as usual is to be commended when things seem to be in a frightening state of flux, and marketing strategies shouldn’t be easily disrupted by the ebb and flow of life. However, it is also important to stay relevant and sensitive to real-world events. We have all read stories of outrageously tone-deaf marketing campaigns and cringed internally – none of us want to be that guy!
· Things to consider when the market is stressed
During times when the market is justifiably feeling a lot of fear and uncertainty, pushing crazy sales or attempting to make jokes about the particular topic can reflect poorly on your business. When you put yourself in the position of the consumer, it’s entirely understandable. Would you want to pay money to a company that thinks your fears and concerns are laughable, at a time when you have the least amount of disposable income?
Focus your immediate strategy on appearing stoic – continue your normal advertisements, and make public statements about how current events will affect operating procedures, opening hours and services accessibility. Appearing as a stable and trustworthy business in a time of crisis is comforting to your current and future customers, and increases your credibility in the future. That being said, it doesn’t mean you should do nothing.
· Plan your strategy for when markets recover
Whilst maintaining your current marketing campaign in a calm fashion is necessary, business owners need to stay agile and change with the times. Planning a great marketing strategy for when a crisis is over is the best thing to do – it means that any new sales, products or services will be received by the public during a time of joy and positive consumer sentiment. That is important, because no one wants a product or service they worked hard on to be associated with a negative climate, or tarred with the brush of advantage-taking.
It’s also important to have a sound strategy in place, because it is historically true that this is when sales can really boost. Where there are great lows, they are often followed by great highs. Likewise, when the market is convinced that the time is crisis is drawing to an end, many will be excited to start spending money again. Plan your marketing strategy for the future so that they spend their money with you.
Increase and improve your online presence
If you haven’t got an online presence at all – now is the time. While you might have been getting away with it in the past, situations where people are physically limited highlight the need for one. The first step would be setting up a website that includes information about who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. The second step is setting up social media accounts associated with the business, and ideally linked to the website. The third step is improving functionality and enabling online sales – or setting up an e-commerce store – to guarantee sales even when physical access to your store is limited.
· Create a website
Get in touch with your local web developer – in this case that would be our awesome team at Jezweb – to discuss getting yourself online with a user-friendly and gorgeous site for your customers to land on. Think of your website like a first meeting – first impressions count!
· Fire up your social media
If you don’t have social media accounts set up for your business, or you have been letting them gather dust in the corner – now is the time to fire them up, set up a social media marketing strategy an make sure they’re sharing great content regularly. Depending on the type of business you are and your target market, different social media platforms have different appeals. As a general guide though, all businesses should at least have a Business Facebook page, LinkedIn, Google My Business page, and Instagram. Other platforms to consider depending on the type of business you are would be things like Twitter, Reddit, or TikTok.
There are scheduling programs available like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Sked Social that allow you to link all your social media up, upload posts and then set them to post automatically. This means you could sit down for a set amount of time and get them all organised. The reason this is important is because social media platforms work on mathematical algorithms – the more you post, the more they show your posts in user feeds. They reward users who upload more posts, by exposing their posts to a wider audience – and this is what all businesses want for themselves! This is why it’s so important to post to your social media on a regular basis, and not all posts need to contain serious or business-related content.
· Update your website – adding new or improved capabilities
While you have the extra time to spend reflecting on all aspects of your business, reviewing your website for its functionality and appeal should be at the top of your list.
When physical sales are restricted, you need your website to make the impression that your team can’t make in person. Now is the time to make sure that the aesthetic appeal and design – colours, themes, fonts and logos – are all up to date and on-trend. It is also time to make sure that you have the appropriate functions available to your customers and that your website is visible in Google search results. Here are a list of things you should consider for improving your website:
- Mobile-responsive versions – do you have a mobile-responsive version of your website that enables users viewing it on a mobile device to navigate it easily on their small screen? Google is now rewarding websites with a good mobile-responsive version by giving them higher rankings in search results!
- Adding e-commerce capabilities – If you have considered setting up the ability to process sales on line, now is the push you need! Even if you hadn’t thought about it, it’s a good time to think about what sort of products and services you could sell online, and have your website upgraded with e-commerce abilities.
- Adding extra webpages – If you don’t have a ‘support’ ‘FAQs’ or ‘enquiry’ page – setting those up on your webpage can cut down on the time your staff have to verbally assist a customer, along with many appreciating that the information is readily available to them without needing to make a call.
- SEO and content services – Search Engine Optimisation services help to make your website more visible in search results, which makes it far more likely that future customers will click on your page. They also make sure that your content, images and videos are consistently tagged with the right keywords and interlinked, making the user experience of finding information seamless. Having a regular bog where you post helpful articles that are on-trend and contextually appropriate for your business is great for SEO, but it’s also great for your users to see that your care enough about their queries to supply well-written articles, videos or great graphics to help them choose the right product or service. Content could be anything from a great article, to a video interview with the owner, or maybe even an animated graphic that shows how something works!
- Supporting increased web traffic – If your website is starting to experience increased traffic organically, or because you have made it more appealing with improvements – you might need to look at upgrading your web hosting plan to allow for increased users.
- Adding or improving email services – With more employees working from home, it might mean you need improved email services and support. Jezweb can help you get that sorted and be there to fix any issues that arise, at a time where email is so important!
Close projects and review current work
Now is the time to do a review of what work you currently have underway, and especially those projects that might have been left by the wayside or forgotten because they weren’t a priority in the past. Any work that has been started is work that you have already paid for – it’s time to get those projects finished and out there earning their pay!
Doing a review like this can also help you see where you are getting interrupted with your work, and whether your work priorities are indeed in order. You may find some unfinished projects that should have been a priority, and you can learn some lessons by examining how they got dropped and why. Doing this sort of review is a great way for planning future strategies, because it shows you where you went wrong, and better clarifies where you want to go.
Plan for the future
“There is no time like the present” has never been a more appropriate phrase when talking about planning for the future. It is such a rare thing for time to stop – and really, it never does – but there are some disruptions to our normal life that can make it seem this way. When those upsets occur, an amazing opportunity reveals itself – unexpected free time. When we can’t do the things we planned, it’s time to plan the things we can. Use this absolute gift of free time to go through all of the points made above, and really examine whether you’re heading in the right direction.
Our team here at Jezweb has years of experience in helping our clients succeed in business by offering the absolute best support and services in web development, SEO and content services. Our clients are extremely diverse in the types of businesses they run, and as such we have become experts in creating services that are a perfectly tailored fit.
Give us a call or an email today and get in contact with us to start talking about how we can help you move forward into an exciting future, and take advantage of opportunity!