Transitioning to a Virtual Reality – What You Need to Know
As the school year ends, I find myself wondering how my children will remember this time in their lives – transitioning to a state of quarantine because of an unseen virus that threatens the places where they felt safe. While they currently feel the effect, they may or may not realize that this will become a defining moment for their generation.
As a business owner in the digital space, I’ve had experience with clients of all different sizes across many industry sectors, and I’ve seen who has been most affected, who has adapted, and who has experienced increased demand.
Since the beginning of the stay-at-home order in Michigan on March 13th, my team has been consolidating/implementing ideas on how we can help our clientele adjust and transition to this new “virtual reality.” Internally, we moved a series of in-person client workshops to smaller seminars conducted entirely online. In addition, we brainstormed to see which clients could shift some of their business online and assisted them in that capacity.
With over two months in lockdown under our belts, we have been able to identify several patterns in business based on those companies that are surviving and thriving in this new age. The following are best-practices from what we’ve observed so far:
- Preparedness. The organizations that were able to quickly transition to a work-from-home setup were, as a result, able to keep fulfilling client services and/or product delivery without too much disruption. Those companies who had to create a plan on-the-fly were forced to implement a new system during a time when it’s difficult to do so – a time when it’s hard to find people to help and to come up with the money to support the new system. In order to make this transition easier both now and in the future (should anything similar happen again), here are a few key items to consider:
- Make sure your tech house is in order. Being able to work remotely enables flexible problem-solving for all kinds of issues. Data is critical to making informed decisions. The ability to quickly access information in order to shape business decisions is a critical business tool that allows companies to be nimbler and awake to market changes.
- Customer Relationship Management Systems and Channels of Communication. Having a strong and well-organized way to find your customers and reach them through a variety of channels is critical. If you’re not in the office, do you have alternate methods for contacting your clients/customers? Fairly quickly, our team realized that calling our clients on their main office lines didn’t work. Direct mail to their places of business didn’t work either. Reaching out to clients/customers individually or in groups through digital advertising (e.g. YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google) can be a great solution, but only if you have pre-established plans and setups for each of these networks.
- Sales Channels. Much like the point above, if you depend on tradeshow and in-person sales and don’t have a Plan B, you may be in trouble. For example, Media Genesis was brought in to analyze the online advertising for a company that provides power solutions to hospitals, schools, and other clients. The company was concerned that their ads weren’t displaying on Google throughout the day. We met with them and explained that, due to an increase in search volume (a lot of people are at home using the internet), their spend was completed in 1-2 hours instead of the 6-8 hours they were accustomed to. Previously in-person markets have moved online, so there is an immediate need to adapt and increase spend where it will make the most impact. The ability to shift channels is a long-term advantage – not just in this crisis but always.
- Adaptability and Creativity. In a recent article I wrote for the Troy Chamber, I shared an example of a nonprofit that successfully pivoted from an in-person fundraising event to a digital event. The numbers from this event are now in, and the results are strikingly positive. As it turns out, the event grossed more money (and at a much lower cost) than ever before, making it a huge success. In a time when fundraising is a serious concern for some organizations, it’s wonderful to see how businesses are able to creatively adapt and thrive.
- The Strength to Pivot. Much like one would pivot in basketball by planting a foot and changing direction, a pivot allows a company to check its assets and opportunities and re-align them to match the current market conditions. We’ve witnessed companies that might otherwise have been ruined by the retail shutdown make company-saving changes and improvisations. For example, restaurants shipping cooking kits and conducting virtual classes to teach people how to make chef-level dishes. Paul Grosz of Cuisine does a great job of this, for example. The Whitney is also providing dinners and gift certificates for frontline workers for every meal sold. The pivot is an important part of the previously-mentioned ability to adapt. In many cases, it may mean completely changing the business model.
These observations are only a handful of the changes we’ve witnessed over the last couple of months. However, the truth of the matter is that these solutions aren’t new because of COVID-19. Rather, these trends (e.g. ordering food online or via app, virtual conference meetings, and virtual education) have existed for years; COVID-19 merely forced us to rely more heavily upon these resources and make critical changes where necessary. With the speed at which technology has been evolving, it’s possible that in 3-5 years, we would’ve been here already, and COVID-19 merely accelerated this process.
As for “returning to normal,” this is the new normal, and it’s better to think of it this way. The changes that we’ve made over the last few months will likely remain in place for some time to come. And while the digital pace may slow, those who aren’t adjusting regularly will likely be left behind, while those who invent, adapt, pivot, and prepare will emerge victorious.
That’s what I love about what we do at Media Genesis; we provide tools and help steer companies toward the strategies that best benefit them in both good and difficult times. If you are interested in learning more about how Media Genesis can help your company, connect with us at inquiry@mediaG.com or call us at (248) 687-7888. (Yes, even at the office we have a good system in place for quickly reaching needed staff!)