Pivot Like Ross for Your SMB to Survive and Thrive

When the economy shuts down during a global pandemic, how do you keep your business alive? In this episode, Chris and Ryan discuss trending data on business operations during COVID-19 and which industries were hit the hardest. Learn to pivot like Ross (yeah, that Ross) and make the digital transformation so you can survive and thrive in 2020 and beyond!

Here are some of the podcast episode highlights:

Ryan Smith: [00:02:53] In this episode, we’re again discussing the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, particularly those in the small to medium business (SMB) space, as well as startups and, of course, entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of data that’s coming in and it’s not looking really good. So to recap some of this, at the very beginning of when we launched the Digital Marketing Happy Hour, we started talking about Communicating During a Pandemic; your messaging, having empathy. And the next, in Episode 2, we talked about sort of this this new normal that is taking place with COVID-19. Along the way we’ve talked about some other areas, not COVID-19 specific, but definitely areas that we’ll touch on a little bit again, in case you haven’t listened to them, about your marketing messaging, knowing your audience .

Ryan Smith: [00:03:50] There was a June survey conducted by the Small Business for America’s Future. Again, June 2020. Now, if you’re listening to us down down the road, it’s still interesting to see where we’re at in June. And, you know, as you continue to progress forward out of a survey of 1,200 small to medium businesses (SMB), only 23, I say only because at at the time is a lot, 23% say they’re considering closing their doors permanently. Now let’s go forward it to middle of July 2020. Yelp came out with their own survey and out of the roughly 133,000 total businesses that they have listed on their site, many are temporary or still permanently closed. And again, mid-July 2020, 55% of the pandemic are closures on Yelp have now gone from temporary to permanently closed. So, Chris, as we can see, this has been an absolute shift of temporary, where we thought, hey, let’s shut down maybe for a month. Let’s get to it. And a lot of areas opened back up again. But what we’re seeing is just the permanent closure of a lot of great retail places, restaurants that may no longer be open whenever this pandemic ends. 

Chris Casale: [00:05:49] Data published by Yelp, 45% of bars and clubs have permanently closed. 48% of businesses in the retail and shopping categories have been completely shuttered, and these are businesses that are just not coming back. 

Chris Casale: [00:06:55] You know, one of the things that we have talked about regularly on this podcast is the importance of knowing your audience so that you can be where they are. And I can’t remember it was one of the previous episodes where we discussed how businesses that had a strong online presence prior to COVID-19 have done better throughout all of this than those that did not. I’m looking at a stat right here. Ecommerce is currently up 18%. And brick and mortar is down 14%. So if you had a physical location, your business is down at least 14%, maybe worse in certain cases. We just talked about all the closures. Maybe it’s down a 100% , but e-commerce is up 18%. So if you had that strong online presence, if you existed in the space where your customers did in that online area, whether it’s social media, whether it’s a website, whether it’s a blog, whether it’s a shopping site, whatever that may be, you still had an opportunity to weather some of this storm. So the businesses that were able to do that, that had that prior to this were more successful.

Ryan Smith: So digital transformation is not necessarily new. I think COVID-19 has forced a lot of companies into this now to get more into it. Go back to Episode five. Where we really dig deep into small to medium sized businesses (SMB) making that digital transformation. I think that’s really good and really relevant for a lot of people. So these companies have had to introduce, you know, new virtual services, making, you know, maybe some offline delivery services.

The companies that are agile, that are able to dig deep. Think of new ways to reinvent themselves. Those are the ones that are going to come out on the other end of this.

Chris Casale: [00:10:12] Yeah, I mean, as we’re talking about Pivot, some pivots are very small. Others are significant. You know, if you’re in the food and beverage space offering curbside pickup or delivery services, that’s a relatively small pivot. If you’re no longer able to maintain a dining room at full capacity, offering those services is an easy way to still be able to sell your products. If you’re not or you’re in the type of business that requires a more drastic pivot, I mean, you have a choice, right? You can do nothing. You can continue to sell typewriters in a digital world or fax machines post email. Right. But we know what happened to those businesses. Or you can think outside the box and you can look for new opportunities and you can do an assessment of what I currently have? And how can I use this to solve a business need?  

Ryan Smith: [00:12:47] If you’re a restaurant, for example, and we go back to that because I think we all eat out today, I love food. So a new virtual service, let’s say you’re a restaurant and you have to close. What could that be? You could come up with some sort of cooking class, a master class, a webinar that you pay to teach maybe your recipes. How do you create your pizza, for example, with this? So there are different things that you can do. And I’m just 50 million, you know, for having your own yoga instruction studio because you used to be the yoga teacher at the local gym or what not. Now you can do your own yoga classes. You can create a series. You can do Facebook lives, Instagram lives. Do it on TikTok. As we learned is that’s huge in the micro influencers space. If you go back to the last episode, Episode 13, you can learn a lot about how to be a micro influencer. All of this comes down to these virtual services. So some of these examples are ways that you can make money, generate some revenue off of it. 

Chris Casale: [00:14:53] Another thing that we’re seeing is I mentioned conferences a little bit earlier. All of the early data is saying that there will be no, you know, they’ve done several surveys. Individuals are not willing to travel. They’re not willing to pack into crowded places. And realistically, who can blame them? Several are saying that they’re not even going to consider it until there’s a vaccine. They’re only going to be virtual through that time period. So if you’re trying to do business prior to that happening, there’s no business to be had or at least it’s going to be a very small percentage of it. So a lot of conferences, a lot of events are going online. They’re going into the virtual space. And the preliminary data on these virtual events is pretty good with over 75% being satisfied with it. And the nice thing about virtual events in some ways is that in-person events are limited in capacity in terms of the total number of people you can have at a particular location. Certainly before it becomes a fire hazard. But with virtual events, as long as you have sufficient technology, the sky’s the limit. You can include as many people as you see fit, which can create other opportunities for you.

Chris Casale: [00:18:53] So essentially what we’re saying is that, yes, the outlook is grim right now with a lot of this data. But there is a ton of opportunity that exists during periods like this. Sometimes you just need to take a step back, take a look at everything that you’ve got at your fingertips and find ways to rethink your approach. So go for it. 

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