Ugh, not another article about social distancing. Trust me, I’m in the same boat. I’m tired of getting email after email about having a virtual business, starting online learning, and what every company under the sun is doing to help the spread of COVID-19.

But at the same time, I’m thankful that people are taking things seriously and really showing consumers the steps they’re taking to be safe. We all need to take things seriously, and the more we can be reminded of this (even when it’s *annoying*) the better.

We’re in uncharted territory. And when facing something new, knowing how to be prepared is of utmost importance.

Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, freelancer, or someone exploring these avenues in order to grow, here are ways you can build your online presence and business during this highly virtual time.

1. Determine what your audience needs right now.

Take a step back and think about what your audience needs. Perhaps you were thinking about offering an in-person workshop. In the time of social distancing, this may no longer be relevant. But what about a virtual workshop? What about individualized 1:1 video calls? What about simply encouraging through your posts and content?

Your customers may be struggling with fear, anxiety, or stress. They might benefit from discounted services or something that feels relevant even when other aspects of life are falling apart. When you consider the perspective your client(s) bring to the table, you’ll be able to better serve them.

2. Focus on easy ways your customers can access what you offer.

In the time of online-based businesses and products, creating something that’s easily accessible is essential to help your business grow. Instead of hard copies of a book you’ve published, can you offer an ebook? Instead of mailed coursework, can you send a downloadable pdf? These are simple (and perhaps even silly to think about) changes, but they can make a big difference in your business strategy.

Take this restaurant concept for example: A local Italian restaurant in my neighborhood is offering to-go drinks. With delivery or pick-up orders, customers can pay to add a can or bottle of beer to their order (provided they show their ID upon pick-up or drop-off). If a competitor decides to only allow for online orders of drinks (with 3-5 days of shipping), who do you think will see more orders? It’s really that simple.

Discover what your customer wants and then try your best to make that accessible and available.

3. Invest in downloadable and virtual business services.

This may sound repetitive, but don’t just think about the products you can offer. Also, consider the services. Let’s say you offer 1:1 consulting. Can you do this, but over Zoom or Google Hangouts calls? If you’re meant to have an in-person meeting about someone’s website, can you do so over the phone?

Change the way you think to a mindset of possibility, rather than canceling. The more you make yourself available and relevant during this time, the more success your business will see.

4. Try to use videography whenever possible.

Engaging visuals (especially videos) are always relevant and important to your business strategy. But when you’re solely relying on the virtual aspects to grow your business, it’s important (now more than ever!) to invest in your cinematography.

Rather than posting a quote, can you add a video with voice-over? Rather than saying, “Check out my podcast!” Can you share a quick clip? Find ways to show your potential customers that you are here, you are relevant, and you aren’t going anywhere.

Video marketing is only growing. Check out this useful infographic that explains how (and why) customers are engaging with video, now more than ever:

video marketing overview

5. Don’t be afraid to give away things for free.

This may sound like a counterintuitive business strategy, but giving away items for free may actually grow your engagement. Again, consider your audience. During these difficult times, it’s helpful to have resources at our fingertips. If those resources are offered for free by one company—why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?

Be smart about what you’re offering as a freebie, but don’t be afraid to be generous, either. Showing people you care about them during this time is very important. And will help your business grow (genuinely and authentically) during this time, and after.

PS: I offer free resources for teachers and free calls for all prospective clients! I’m also in the process of making a free video series for the novel, House On Mango Street! If any of that sounds like something you need, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Featured Image Credit: Sincerely Media

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