What we’ve learned | Let’s be frank.

Here we are 16 months later, after what has been a very tough and challenging time for so many businesses in Cork, in Ireland and worldwide; Covid-19 certainly has left its’ mark. It has had a direct impact on us all both in our personal lives and in business. We know it’s far from gone and have to learn to live with the disruptions and disappointments that it continues to bring; but we got here and discovered a lot along the way.

ePresence | Here’s what we’ve learned during this time.

1. Business Owners Are Strong.
Increased levels of stress were experienced by most business owners. The worry of business closure, reduction of income, loss of jobs and financial pressures were real – they were valid. Add changed work environments, family dynamics and lack of control to the mix and it’s amazing they got through this period at all. Great credit is due to business owners and their teams for their resilience and strength during this time. We are so proud to have worked alongside them and to be in a position to help them through this time.

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2. On The Ground, Government Supports Have Really Helped.
» Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), provided a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible employees on the employer’s payroll.

» COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
Was available to employees and the self-employed who lost their job due to the pandemic.

» Short-time Work Support
Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked could avail of this support.

» Governments Grants, Loans & Supports
Numerous grants were made available during this time and we found that the LEO Trading Online Voucher Scheme was hugely popular offering assistance of up to €2,500 for small business.

3. Digital Marketing Saved the Day for Lots of Businesses.
Digital marketing helped to reach customers when physical businesses were closed during the lockdown.

Our experience during this time was that companies didn’t ‘dilly dally’, they knew what had to be done. Digital marketing decisions that were previously put on the long finger were introduced in record time. Small companies previously afraid to dip their toe in the online marketing world, changed their opinion overnight. All of a sudden it was a no brainer.

At ePresence, we spent our days working with our clients; setting up online shops, facilitating online appointments, setting up business listings and allowing our customers to communicate with theirs during the lockdown. It worked well. Credit where credit is due; Digital marketing allowed businesses to adapt to the changing circumstances and stay in business. Digital Marketing also allowed business owners to take back control and start to plan again.

Companies that already had an online presence, no matter how small, benefitted more than those that didn’t. They hit the ground running.

How do we see the future?
The future might still be uncertain as the Pandemic continues and worries about new variants emerge, but at ePresence we believe there is a lot to feel positive about. We have more control now and lessons have been learned. Our work practices have changed for the better, we waste less time on the road, we work smarter, we use more digital marketing and are in a better place to cope if another lockdown is ever on the cards again (hopefully never).

Practical Steps You Can Take Now

1. Draw up a Recovery Roadmap
Developing a proper roadmap focusing on your revenue streams, your operations and your business is a sensible idea. When coupled with digitisation, efficiency and quality, it will allow your business to thrive in the long run and help you achieve your goals.

ePresence can help with your Roadmap. With 15 years consulting experience coupled with business and digital marketing know-how, we can help you face the future with confidence and position yourself to run your business well despite future restrictions.

2. Focus on your customer
Use your digital marketing tools to stay in touch with customers. Make it easy for them to find what they want quickly and easily. Consider customer experience and how it can be improved.

Track what your customers are doing on your website and amend processes based on this. Companies that adapt to the changing needs of customers will recover more rapidly and be better positioned than competitors.

3. Your Physical & Online Store – they need to work together.
Many business owners now accept that their website is the front-door of their store. Greater cohesion between the physical store and the online presence is now essential. One should support the other. See Independent Article on this topic by Owen Clifford

4. Develop Your People
Your company mission, objectives and goals should be clear to everyone on the team and although working remotely in a lot of cases, this is more important than ever. We all need to work together, communicate well with that main focus in mind.

Your team is very important – Support them. Talk to each of your employees and get a better understanding of what their goals are. In what areas do they struggle? Would they benefit from additional training? Adapting employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building resilience and improving teamwork.

Encourage healthy routines such as taking a break from screens or having a short walk during the day to improve health and wellbeing. We are all thankful of the efforts and sacrifices our teams have made over the past 15 months and they should know that.

About ePresence Digital Marketing

We are a customer focused digital marketing agency, headquartered in Cork. We are experienced in Business Development, Product Development and Innovation Management. Find out how we can make a positive difference to your online presence.

Call +353 (0)21 2362901 or email us on info@epresence.ie