The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on South African Businesses
Many businesses have taken a heavy knock with the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa. How we are allowed to do business has changed overnight, and for some, the change has cost them. We need to face the possibility that business as usual will never be the same again.
According to optimistic projections, it may take months or even years to get back to our “normal”. What is considered normal business has probably changed forever. Many think the lockdown could be extended up to 3 months if we look at what other countries have done.
If we don’t go into an extended lockdown, chances are high more regulations and restrictions will be put in place. It’s unprecedented, and nobody was expecting this. Can businesses whose operations aren’t digital transform and take on this new era? We think it's necessary and unavoidable if you want your business to succeed.
Ways You Can Transform Your Business to Survive the COVID-19 Lockdown
Our team has been working hard to help clients digitise their businesses. Our experiences have helped us develop a list of ways to digitise your organisation so it can survive the pandemic.
If your business wasn’t based online, you may have lost the ability to continue operations. Think dance studios, beauticians, cleaning services, schools, bakeries, and sales. The good news is a shift in the focus of your business could be all you need.
Our client, CCM, is a professional cleaning service provider. It has shifted its focus from full-staff on-site cleaning to contact-free cleaning and sanitising. By using a unique and innovative solution called misting, CCM offers people a new and smarter way to clean without touching surfaces.
This type of cleaning service is ideal for hospitals and any areas needing disinfection. As a result, during a time when many businesses are closing or suffering losses, they have seen an increase in results. All it took was a digital campaign focused on their new service.
With a little creativity, you can adjust the way your business runs to reach people digitally. One of our clients, a psychologist, has begun to meet with her patients over Skype for Business. In this way, she can continue counselling patients without breaking the lockdown rules.
Can you think of a creative way to reach your customers where they are? Beauticians may not be able to carry out beauty routines or facials, but they could do online tutorials over Skype. Schools can use Google Classroom to send and mark worksheets. Traditional artists could start online art courses or explore a digital art form.
The sudden changes in the world have rearranged people’s priorities. Hand sanitizer and toilet paper are suddenly hotter commodities than silver and gold. This presents us with a unique opportunity. If your business is struggling right now, consider whether there are new needs your company can meet. Is there a new service or product you can offer to meet needs that have suddenly become very important?
EZ Shuttle is one of our clients that provides airport shuttle services for corporates and consumers. As the biggest airport shuttle company in the country, they stand to lose a lot when airports are closed. In just two days, they lost 80% of their business, but an innovative solution that answers a new need has saved it.
EZ Shuttle now drives essential workers and staff to work and back with a strong focus on health and safety. The drivers and cars are required to take more safety measures and to cater to a more professional client. Their service offers essential workers in South Africa a way to get to work that is not jam-packed and does not risk unnecessary contact.
Their change in service offering comes with a change in what services they market and how they are market it. TIH, an insurance provider, has lowered it's focus on car and travel insurance. Instead, they now focus on marketing life insurance and business insurance to give companies and individuals cover for risks that are relevant now.
Sometimes a change in your focus and the needs you meet aren’t workable options on their own. If that’s the case, you might need to reach out to a new audience too. You can offer your service in a new way to a new audience and find success. Urban Foods, another one of our clients, operated as a business-to-Business service provider before.
We helped them go digital overnight, they are now a business-to-customer operation. With some strategic digital marketing, Urban Direct is reaching customers directly on the internet. Within a week, they went from serving over 200 businesses to supplying more than 150 customers directly. Can you change your audience to increase your results?
When you’re choosing which tools to use, think about internet connectivity and other practical issues. For a digital meeting platform, ask how many people can join a call and what call quality is. Can your staff easily download the app or access the platform on their desktop?
Our client, MyPilates, now offers all Pilates classes on Zoom! Customers can sign up for the class, pay digitally, and join in sessions from home. For online video meetings, conference calls, and classes try Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Toasty or Crowdcast.
Sell online with ecommerce tools like WooCommerce, PayFast, and Shopify. Cloud services can take your office work online. Your office staff can access important files and work from home if you use tools like Office 365 and G Suite.
Communication channels have become even more important. We can’t walk to Bob’s office to have a chat about that email, and what if Mary’s building is in a no-Wi-Fi zone? We suggest using online conference call tools along with other communication platforms like WhatsApp and Teams.
Schedule in daily calls, sometimes even a few times a day. Find out where your team is at, whether they’re stuck or need anything, and to share good news. Pitch has named our digital catchups daily huddles.
People are bored at home, unable to go out and have fun. Netflix is getting all the love right now, and social traffic has skyrocketed. People are looking for distractions, and this is an opportunity for your business. A time of global crisis isn’t a time to be silent.
We don’t suggest getting into controversial matters online, but at a time like this, increasing your social media paid advertising and presence can give your business a huge boost, especially if it is done right. Your social media efforts should be backed by creative, out-of-the-box strategies and concepts.
When China went into lockdown, app downloads increased by a whopping 40% (according to the Financial Times)! If you don’t have an app, there’s no better time to develop one than now. Your app is way likelier to succeed with so many people in need of entertainment, distraction, and engagement.
Are you selling your product online? If not, now is the time to become an eCommerce seller! Our clients, Catbox, went from selling pet supplies in stores to becoming a digital seller during the lockdown period. Their online store makes it possible for people to buy from them without having to visit an actual shop.
Social media interest has risen, and online shopping has increased too. Remember to put information about deliveries up on your store’s page. If your product is non-essential, you will only be able to deliver once the lockdown lifts or if changes in restrictions allow it.
You can encourage your audience or inform them about changes in your business. Are you offering a new product? Let them know. Are you adjusting your business somehow? Let them know to enjoy the loyalty of the customers you already have.
A final great idea if you’re suddenly out of work or unable to continue work is to consider freelancing online. It may not be feasible for everyone, but if you have the skill set, you can do work for people online through platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and NoSweat. You can also create online courses for platforms like Udemy.
The Pitch team can help you digitise your business or organisation during the COVID-19 lockdown. With years of experience and a team always on the cutting edge of digital advancements, we can help take your business online fast.
Interested in more marketing news? Subscribe to our newsletter here or read more about it on our Insights page today. All statistics and information discussed in this article is relevant at the time of publishing and may be subject to change without notice.
Sources: payfast; iol