Superfast Business Wales digital expert Catrin Williams explains the basics of moving your services and courses online
Life has certainly changed over the past 12 months for us all. How we took for granted those little things like going to the shops, eating out and socialising face-to-face. For business owners has come the added stress of losing valuable income and potentially customers if they’ve stopped spending or gone elsewhere.
Some businesses have been able to develop their existing online customer base and add new products and services. However for others it’s been trickier – perhaps not having systems and infrastructure in place, not feeling digitally confident, and also hoping that their business would be able to open its doors again at some point.
What can you do? Depending on your business offering, pivoting your service online to help create cash, maximise resources and build resilience is an option but where do you start?
Ask your customers
Would they like to see your service online? Customers are desperate to have some level of activity and engagement with yourself and others, especially your regular customers. Ask what their hesitations would be e.g. technical ability, limited or no access to the internet, computer, or smart phone, etc.
In the new world of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Facetime etc., different people have varying levels of knowledge, skill, and confidence of using these platforms. Haven’t we all heard those dreaded words “Karen, you’re on mute!”
Some customers may already be used to accessing services online, but for others it may be a totally new way of doing things. So have a think about the possible questions, hesitations, and barriers that people may have.
Customer feedback is great and will hopefully reinforce your idea that online activities are the way forward, to run alongside your physical classes and workshops when you can throw your doors wide open again. You may also pick up non-local customers who want to continue with the online classes, helping to secure your business for now and for the future.
Setting up your online platform and space
You don’t need to spend a fortune. Platforms like Zoom, Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams can all be accessed for free, and as long as you have a reliable laptop or desktop computer, that should be enough to get you started. Inbuilt cameras are usually sufficient although you can purchase a web camera for closer up or side view facility.
Think about your set up. Do you need a backdrop or dedicated desk/table space for your activity? Will you have peace and quiet? Again something to bear in mind in this day and age of working from home and onscreen cameos from family pets!
You may think about setting up a dedicated space in your business premises if you have one, where you will have everything to hand including products that you may wish to demonstrate (or link sell).
Think about your to-do list and plan ahead. What else will you need your online platform to do, e.g., facility to ask questions, share photos, etc.? Will the sessions be recorded? Will you need to take payments? These are all things to consider and get nailed down first.
Test everything works before launching to the outside world. Once you’re ready, you can spread the word to your target audience – whether that be email database, social media following, current customers, and so on.
But remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Organisations like Superfast Business Wales are here to help you navigate the new normal.
Get free expert help