Saturday, June 27, 2020

How We Transformed to Digital




It happened so naturally that when a colleague asked about the impact of COVID-19 on my business, I responded, “Hmmm. It was minimally.” In some cases, I easily answered, “It didn’t have an impact.” 


At the time, I didn’t see, feel, or even thought about the impact. 


It took weeks of privately mulling the question, on and off, before realizing just how much God’s directive to transform to digital had lessened the impact on my company. His directive was months before COVID-19 became a major concern in the U.S., and, notedly, even the awareness of God’s role, in initiating the process, was slow coming. 


It was nearing the last quarter of 2019 when a thought occurred to me, out of nowhere or so I thought, to shift my focus and marketing efforts to digital. Until that moment, my husband, who is in charge of sales and marketing, had prioritized his preference for personal selling. And he was good at it. The sale of my books was going well. In fact, prior to releasing my latest novel, Everything She Needs, he had generated a sizeable amount of pre-orders that getting the book in the hands of the readers felt urgent.


The request for our professional development training was increasing as well. Although we have an online platform, he focused on in-person training, primarily. In planning for 2020, he had already booked dates with local organizations and was in talks with prospects from Africa to expand our reach. We had conducted training sessions with entrepreneurs from Gabon, and he was excited about the developing plans with contacts there to expand into the region.


It was amidst the planning that the thought to prioritize a transformation to digital occurred to me. As the link between the company and the public, this meant my husband had to change his marketing strategy. I discussed it with him, made it the theme for 2020, and built a marketing course for us.  


After conducting research, I also invested in new marketing software, digital delivery services, and built an online store to expand the distribution channels for my books, beyond Amazon. I revamped our Learning Management System (LMS) platform for delivery of our courses and training, and developed a marketing plan that prioritized online activities.


From a business perspective, the restructuring was necessary to keep with the growing trend towards “online everything” in the business environment. However, as a small business, the steps were taken in strides. My husband slowly adapted, and we embraced the steep learning curve. By the time COVID-19 was generating major concerns and forcing businesses to go remote, we were ahead of the curve.


Transforming to digital is not a new concept. However, with the impact of COVID-19, now more than ever, small business owners should consider it a necessity for survival.


Benefits of Transforming to Digital
1.     Reach more potential customers
2.      Increase sales
3.      Engage customers
4.      Improve efficiency
5.      Enhance creativity
6.      Improve the speed of delivery
7.      Collect data in real-time
8.      Make informed strategic decisions
9.      Satisfy environmental responsibility
10     Stay competitive


While transforming to digital presents small business owners with more ways to add value to their product offerings, aspiring entrepreneurs, too, can take advantage of digital technologies to seize the opportunities in the altering business landscape. 


Laura P. Jones, PhD


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