There is a lot of news noise right now. Rioting around the world. Recovering from a virus. Murder hornets. How to reopen. Will there be a second wave causing another shutdown? Oh, and the US has now returned to space!
How do you remain relevant with your customers and potential customers amidst all the calamity sucking up everyone’s attention?
Here are five keys to remaining relevant and continuing to flourish:
Do not panic. If you make important decisions while panicking, you will regret it. Stay calm. Reach out to key vendors, customers and staff if you are in a difficult spot. But do not panic.
Following closely on the previous point, stay the course. On March 9th, our outlook was rosy. The pipeline was filling up nicely and existing customers were ready to add new services. There was a two week period after that when things looked bleak as the pipeline emptied out and uncertainty ruled. But the spirit of free enterprise is strong in this country and our pipeline of new and existing customers began to fill again. You are not alone. Even businesses that are busier than ever understand that others are suffering. Stay the course.
Communicate. Communicate to your customers what steps you have taken and are taking to ensure the safety of your customers and your staff. Communicate what is different. Our Church shot a series of short videos showing how things would work before, during, and after the service so folks can understand before they even go in the door.
Leverage. You are not isolated and you have not been operating in a vacuum. Look through your contacts. Email or call people. I have received several very nice messages from my connections – messages just to connect and show concern. These are delightful and stick with you. Think about ALL of your contacts. Reach out to your LinkedIn connections. Try your Facebook friends. Of course go through your “rolodex” of contacts. Ask if you can help or if they need help that you might be able to do an introduction for.
Get creative. My friend Mike Larkin started making videos. In a recent video he “introduced” his friends. He had printed off, for example, my picture from LinkedIn and my logo and had put them on a paddle board – showing my picture on one side and my business on the other. He proceeded to introduce several of his vendors and colleagues in the same way. It is a delightful video that both shows he cares about folks and endears those of us mentioned to him. Think about how you can do something similar – to both help others and draw your network closer to you.
And of course there is a sixth key – use your website for each of these keys. Set it as the hub so that as the business climate, your people and your network know to come to your site for the latest and greatest.
You can remain relevant. It takes a bit of focus. Don’t be distracted by whatever the news is pushing as the latest thing to fear. Keeping your eye on your goals will help and of course, if there is anything EduCyber can do to help, let us know.
Between Maki and Brian, we know a lot of people. And we want to help. So whether it is something for your website or some other business need, let me know. Hiring? We know people. Downsizing? We know people. Need help with a local government? We know people. We want to help so let Maki or Brian know if there is anything we can do for you.
It doesn’t matter whether you are chomping at the bit to reopen or wish the government would keep things shut down until it is deemed safe, people are getting anxious. Even those wanting to stay in are getting cabin fever.
It is spring. The weather is getting nicer. People ARE going out. And every day more people are wanting to go out.
And that means that more and more businesses will be opening. How are you preparing, both personally and professionally for getting to what many are calling the new normal?
It is prudent, none of us wants people to die, it is just that some of us see the risks differently, to be prepared for the new normal. I’m not a fan of masks – the science, where it exists suggests that anything less than an N95 mask is more for show than for actual protection. But there ARE steps you can take to minimize the risk as you venture out:
Wash your hands frequently. (I can’t believe that has to be mentioned but, as it turns out, washing your hands protects you from bad germs.)
When you’ve been near or in contact with others, avoid touching your face until you have washed your hands.
Wash your hands frequently (see a trend here?) and when soap is not available, use hand sanitizer.
Be extra sensitive to the senior population. Most of the deaths are in this population – protect your Mom and Dad – or grandparents, or whomever you have in your life that is older.
And for your business there are also several steps you should take to prepare to reopen:
Move your communications, data, and email into the cloud. This will help for any work-from-home people you have as well as distributing your touch points – you don’t have to have multiple sets of hands touching your inhouse server if you don’t have an inhouse server.
Update your policies – whether you interface with the public or just have staff that you want to provide a safe environment for, update your policies – in writing and make sure your staff and employees all understand them.
Celebrate Your Uniqueness – Take the updated policy from step two and consider what is different from your old normal. Highlight the differences. Consider if there are steps you are taking that might be different or better than the competition.
Tell the World – Now that you have a clear policy and understand what sets you apart, tell the world! One of the first things people are looking for right now, is what is your COVID-19 policy – are you open and what steps are you taking so tell the world. Post it on your website. Link to your post in your social media, update your profiles in social media and in search engines.
Turn a negative into a positive. What do we think about the current pandemic? It sucks. But instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, look at the positives. First of all, listen to your self-talk. If it is negative, shout it down. You got this. We can make it through. And we can get back to prosperity, where we were just a few short months ago.
Before you know it, we will be looking back on the beginning of 2020 as an aberration. But, much like the oxygen masks on planes, we have to first take care of ourselves before we can help others. So take care of yourself. And of your business.
And if EduCyber can be of any assistance, give us a call at 303-268-2245.
Join EduCyber as we walk through the FIVE (Digital) steps you’ll need to go through as you re-open your business. You’ll see how you can take the next steps with more confidence and figure out how to integrate the New Normal into your business routine.
You will learn: • How to prepare your business as you re-open your door for your customers • What risks should you consider and how to avoid it • New-normal – Why ‘We’ve always done it this way’ doesn’t work anymore
There are lots of things you can do for your business right now. But the single best thing you can do right now is laugh.
Yes, I mean it.
I was kind of freaking out when this all started. Business – new leads and new projects ground to a halt.
Or so I thought.
But the entrepreneurial spirit of America is alive and well.
Over the Easter weekend, I spent a lot of time with family. We laughed. A lot. And Monday morning I started fresh. I posted a blog about working from my basement and steps to keep engaged. And it worked. Folks reached out and, just from that blog, I began to get leads. And I would not have written that blog had I not spent time laughing.
And there is much to laugh about – not at others although I have seen some pretty funny stuff like the woman in the UK that took her device with her to the bathroom not realizing everyone in the meeting could see her – especially if you step outside of yourself and the crisis for just a minute and look in.
A couple of days ago I was on a zoom call and had set a background (I have a black curtain behind me). I happened to be wearing a black t-shirt with “I am Groot” in white lettering. This is kind of fuzzy but here is a screen capture of it:
I don’t know – what do you think? I think it looks kind of funny.
But whether you think that is funny or not, laugh a little. Then pick up the phone or hop on a screen share and talk to someone. Talk to a customer, a vendor, a colleague. You will be surprised to see how the conversation turns out after you have laughed.
Oh and as states and counties begin to open up, keep laughing. This is good advice for post COVID-19 just as it is for during. You will find you enjoy people more and they will find they enjoy you as well.
On a cold and snowy spring morning, while you are likely stuck in your “home office”, what can you do to advance your business? What can you do to grow when the whole world seems to have ground to a halt?
Pick up the phone. Call customers. Ask them if there is anything they
need. When they say no, probe a bit. Just because they don’t need help with what you do or offer, let them know of your network. See if they have a need you might be able to help them meet through someone else.
Revisit your prospect list. Take some time with each person or company on the list. Think about what they do. Think about what they might need during this shutdown. Reach out to them, by phone whenever possible and appropriate, but by email or even snail mail where not, and offer something useful. Tips. Links to resources. Something that you can share that will add value.
Host an online gathering. Select several contacts whether it be customers, vendors, colleagues, partners or prospects. Set a time and host a gathering whether it be to address a specific topic or simply to share with each other about how you are coping and what is happening locally.
There is a lot happening. Every level of government seems to be rolling out programs, grants and loans to assist businesses large and small. Keep up with the current status – the grant and loan programs at the federal level are literally changing on a daily basis right now – and be prepared to share with your network.
And for you personally?
Breathe. My mother is in a memory care unit in another state. They are on lockdown, meaning my brothers can no longer visit her physically. When I call her now, she is usually breathless and has a high level of anxiety. Some of the time I can help her with the same advice I give to you. Breathe. Take a deep breath. All the way in. A bit more. Now exhale. Don’t stop. All the way out. Now do it again. I’ll wait. Now try it once more.
So you are unexpectedly forced into downtime. Can’t go to the office. Can’t go to the restaurant. Can’t go to the theater. Set aside the frustration for a moment. What can you do?
Remember way back when you were too busy to take the time to work on your site (last week)?
Now you have the time for you and your staff to revisit your website. You might be surprised. Earlier today we met with a businessman who had recently changed to a whole new website with a new URL. As we went through his site and his listings, we discovered that many of his social media and external sites linked to the previous site or to the previous email.
What things should you look for?
Is your logo and tag line current and up-to-date across all media?
Is your name consistent on every page and on all your social media?
Check your physical address. One thing search engines need is the same address where even “Ave.” and “Ave” can be seen differently. Make sure your address is absolutely identical. If you belong to any trade associations or chambers, check them as well.
Look at your site on a phone. Does it look right on every page? Does the mobile responsive part work as expected?
Review your color scheme. Does your site follow the scheme properly? Are all the colors matching your approved standards?
Are your forms all working? Is there a next step after a form is filled out?
Is the contact information accurate and up-to-date?
Check for bad reviews on social – Facebook, Yelp, Google, etc.
Are there any pages or content on your site that no longer applies to what you do?
Are all of the images appearing properly? Do you need any new or different photos?
Have you added any new services or products that are not yet on the site?
Are your blog and social media profiles current and accurate?
Over the course of the last several years, we have had many customers come to us asking for Search Engine Optimization. We do SEO (and we do it well) so we are happy to accommodate.
But as a part of our marketing assistance, we seek to understand the goals of the SEO program. On a few occasions the customer’s goal has not been to get a higher ranking with the search engines. Those conversations go something like this:
Customer: I would like you to do SEO for my site. EduCyber: Sure thing, let’s take a look at your numbers. First, what is your conversion rate for your web site? C: ??? E: How many leads are you generating from your site on a daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis? C: I’m not. E: So if we get you ranked in the top ten for all of your keywords and you are still at a conversion rate of zero, will you be happy? C: Of course not! E: So let’s look at what you want to accomplish. C: I want the phone to ring! E: Ah, we can help with that.
And in many cases what we do is first tweak or in some cases redo the site to clarify and simply the Call To Action (CTA). Once we’ve done that we can establish a conversion rate. Once the conversion rate is established, then we can look at whether SEO, Pay Per Click, Social Media or some combination of those is the appropriate solution in order to get more business.
Are you wondering if you might be practicing misguided marketing? Some of the comments we hear from folks include:
We tried social media, it didn’t work.
I don’t get any feedback from my SEO firm.
I get all kinds of reports from them but I don’t understand any of them.
We’re paying a lot of money but not getting any tangible results.
I’m told we rank high but the phone isn’t ringing
I’m paying for clicks and I see the reports but no one is contacting us.
Powerful Manufacturing websites are a niche that make them different from other kinds of websites. They need to display their products in such a way that searchers can find and visit the page of the specific product they want. They need to be searchable. But they also need to show the quality of the product, of the people making the product and even the process and standards that go into creating the product.
Here are the five requirements for a powerful manufacturing website that actually connects with customers and potential customers:
It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product. All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need. Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
It needs to have a product database. Whether you actually sell directly online or just show the products, the database needs to function like an ecommerce site where you can view individual product pages, get the specs, perhaps even see reviews and get support for the product.
All of this can and should be done through a product database so you can dynamically display different products – by category, most popular, possibly even by price or SKU.
The design of the site must be compelling. Unless you are a big, nationally known brand, you want to engage visitors right from the start on what they need. The first step of that process is to confirm for them that you are a legitimate source for the product they need.
Compelling images of your products, perhaps being created or finished are an excellent way to show your workmanship, display what you actually do and impress with your quality work.
Finally you need to have clear and effective calls to action. One of the biggest downfalls for manufacturing websites is displaying information without moving folks to the next step. By having a good next step on each page of your site, you will not only engage your web visitors but convert them into customers.
Does your site do all five of these? If not, give EduCyber a call. We can tweak your existing site or design a whole new site to help you grow.
Security is becoming more and more of an issue with websites – both for business owners on how to keep their site secure and for consumers on how to protect their privacy. There is a concept that is gaining in popularity called Differential Privacy.
While the initial work in this area is over 10 years old, on September 5th Google announced it is open-sourcing it’s differential privacy library. The concept is to add “noise” to data so that a data scientist can extract information from the database without being able to identify specific persons.
In this age of tech intruding every further into our personal lives – with Alexa, Siri and Cortana listening in on the most intimate details of our lives – privacy of the individual is becoming increasingly compromised and therefore increasingly important to the individual.
Differential privacy has the potential to put some of that privacy back in place while at the same time placating the data-hungry data-crunching super computers that are driving innovation in AI, IoT and so many other areas of life.
Most business owners we interact with want all the data they can get about people visiting their site but at the same time don’t want to share their own personal information with other sites. We get it. With data breach after data breach, it is important to know that your privacy is being protected. At the same time, I want to know that someone from that company I’ve been targeting for two months just visited my website.
This is a constantly shifting line that has no clear response on how to lay it out for your site. But this differential privacy that Google has just open-sourced (made available for all to use) may be one of the steps in the right direction.
Not sure if your site is handling privacy well? Give us a call at 303-268-2245. We’re happy to help you evaluate your site.