Think Tank: Digital or Die
By Fernando Camacho
2020 was the year that changed everything.
Instead of going out and spending time in the real world, people flooded to the digital world. Thanks to our phones, tablets and computers, we were able to do business, interact with others and live our lives in what became 2020’s “new normal.”
The world was already headed more and more toward digital environments, but the pandemic greatly accelerated the process. And now it’s here to stay.
I watched many businesses just pull the covers over their heads and hunker down, waiting until things went back to normal. Those businesses struggled terribly and many were forced to close their doors forever. However, I also watched other companies realize the shift in the marketplace, made the necessary adjustments and were able to not only survive but come out stronger than before.
Thanks to COVID, the business landscape has forever changed and you need to evolve with it or find yourself irrelevant in this very digital world. The internet is not a fad, social media is not going away, and now is the time to embrace and harness these powerful tools to grow your business in 2021 and beyond.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN DO THAT FOR YOUR BUSINESS:
1. Optimize your digital assets. What does your online presence look like? Will it give people a good impression of you and showcase your business to its full potential? Start with your website and make sure it’s fully responsive (adapts to the device it’s being viewed on) and gives a great mobile experience. Make sure it loads quickly, is easy to read and is designed well (it’s your digital storefront).
You also want to make sure you look good on all your social media channels. Improve your cover images and profile pictures, and provide detailed info in the “about” sections so that people can learn about your business (think of your social profiles as mini websites for your business.)
2. Have a presence on social media platforms. You need to meet your customers where they are at—and they are online more than anywhere else. Like it or not, it’s a social media world. That’s where people are gathering, that’s where the conversations are being held and that’s where all the eyeballs are—and you need to be there. I recommend starting with one platform at a time, and Facebook is hands-down the largest and most versatile, so that’s where you want to be seen.
Don’t just post offers and list events. Instead, use it to provide value; educate, entertain and inspire your audience, all while interacting and engaging with them. Social media is not a one-way broadcast media; it’s a two-way communication. You need to be responding to comments, asking questions and proving that there are real people on the other side of the keyboard.
Hint: Don’t post the exact same thing on both Facebook and Twitter at the same time in the exact same way. That’s how you show people there is no one home—just robot automation.
3. Don’t forget about email. The bad thing about social media is that you don’t own the platforms and have no control over what happens there or how it works. Your email list, however, is all yours, and even if Facebook shuts down tomorrow, you can still communicate with your leads and customers via email.
Email is a very underrated and underutilized tool, but it’s still the only place where you have someone’s undivided attention without all the noise of social channels. It’s also something that people check in with multiple times per day. Use it to nurture new leads and take better care of your existing customers.
4. Digital advertising. If you haven’t done so yet, start marketing your business using paid advertising online. It’s always been the most cost-effective, flexible and easy-to-track form of getting your message out there; however, now more than ever, it’s the place to get your business in front of people.
I get very excited about this stuff because I’ve seen how explosively powerful it is for my clients. Digital has always been the future, and the future is here, now. You can either jump in and ride the wave, or be sucked down and washed away.
Questions for this column come from the Facebook group The Dog Daycare Business Think Tank and are answered by Fernando Camacho (Fern). Fern runs Overdog Digital, a digital marketing agency specializing in working with dog daycare and boarding facilities. He does private business consulting, staff training and helps pet businesses utilize modern resources to expand their customer base and grow their businesses. Fern is also the author of six books and is a speaker at national conferences and private events. To join the group or ask a question, go to: www.facebook.com/groups/dogdaycarethinktank