With social distancing and the ever-changing goalposts of COVID-19, it’s next to impossible to run a traditional studio-based business model right now. And to be perfectly honest, none of us knows what the immediate future looks like either.
So it’s time to PIVOT (if you’ve seen that friends episode you know!) your business, here’s how:
Going digital: Where to start?
Being more digitally focused is a good choice for your business even without a global pandemic looming! Buying habits are changing. People are purchasing directly from social media, working out at home or the office, and they are communicating remotely, now more than ever.
So while you may already have an established brand and invested in branding that attracts more prospects to your studio and in-person services you offer. You now need to look elsewhere. It’s scary and challenging, but not impossible!
Before you do anything else, look at your current offering and decide how to transfer it online.
- Could you offer an online client portal?
- Could you offer services remotely instead?
- Can you offer complementary services rather than your main service in the meantime?
It’s important to remember here that it’s best to pick something you can do long-term because then it’s an investment and you’ll have two income streams when this is all over (hello, accidental business growth!)
Now you’ve got an idea of the actual services you can transfer over, it’s time to develop the digital brand. Remember, you’re walking a very fine line where you must get your current clients on board with the changes, and also keep in mind what the best possible option for your digital presence will be.
Here are a few pointers on how you can do that:
Keep what’s important
First, make sure you don’t lose your uniqueness – if your existing clients and followers are used to a specific voice and tone, keep it no matter what you start to offer.
The thing you are moving away from at this time is in-person sessions, not your brand persona.
Everything that makes you – you – should stay. Of course, staying viable and money is a factor here but if you stray too far from your brand you could not only impact your current customers but struggle to get new ones!
Explain your why
Why did you decide to go digital? You might know the reason, but how about your clients and followers?
Simply moving away from your current services and offering new options isn’t going to do it – instead, use your existing online presence and website to let everyone know what you’re planning and why.
Reassure your current audience that it’s still you, and that the changes are exciting. Moving towards digital services is a big change that may well upset a few, but don’t let them stop you. You can address them directly and speak to them about why it’s great for THEM.
Set up a way to qualify your leads on your website
Unlike with your in-person location, leads or potential customers online aren’t always as warm as they first appear. So you may find you get a lot of interest but fewer conversions and you don’t want to be wasting your time on people who aren’t ready to commit right now!
On the other hand, most warm leads cool off in a matter of hours if they don’t get an answer to their question, so why risk losing new clients if you can automate the selling process?
Imagine wanting to book an online session only to have to wait for a reply on availability or a query?
Look into booking and online store platforms that take all of that off your hands and automate it. Their setup is usually straightforward and they have live inventory updates so you won’t have to worry about double booking.
Adapt to the new pain points your customers might have
Being a more digitally focused brand requires a certain change in the topics of the content you provide.
The ‘challenges’ and problems your audience will be facing will be different and this should reflect in your content strategy. This sudden move towards digital comes with a plethora of new pain points for your customers and prospects – from learning to use new tools and platforms to being confined in their homes for quite a while – so make sure you address these too.
For example, where their previous pain point would have been worrying about their first visit to the studio, now it could be how to join the class remotely!
Your clients and prospects will be more than grateful that somebody knows exactly what they are going through, and they will trust you can lend them a helping hand which bolsters your authority.
Tweak your social media focus
A new content strategy means a shift in social media focus as well. Change up your CTAs from in-person sessions towards your new digital offers, and highlight the benefits of using digital services by explaining how they solve some previous pain points to link it all together.
You can also share your own journey behind-the-scenes which works twofold because it gives you new content and allows you to nurture that personal connection.
Creating digital revenue streams
It’s going to take a while before things go back to how they were, and some businesses might never go back to the old ways. This isn’t inherently a bad thing! It’s just about leveraging what you already have.
If you’re already panicking, don’t worry I’ve got some ideas to share on that too!
While there are plenty of different revenue streams online, it’s best to stick to tried and true methods. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
A subscription model is a great way to secure revenue on an ongoing basis since you won’t have to remind your clients about paying after each session or each month and waste resources chasing money. With this model, they will be charged each month until they cancel their subscription.
It’s a win-win however you look at it: you don’t have to worry about invoicing manually, while your clients don’t have to worry about forgetting payments.
If there’s a service you already offer that is already really popular, make a course for those who don’t necessarily need live guidance but would love some pointers on how to do it right. You can have a steady income stream from courses that you set up and sell online.
You can opt for a presentation format, but video definitely takes the cake for these! It’s easily digestible, can be watched on tons of different devices and there is no time limit on when it’s being watched! You can also leverage video in a ton of different ways like ads, opt-ins, and even social media if you want to offer a ‘sneak peak.’
Hosting events and webinars online
Getting new people interested in your services is best done by hosting events and webinars where they can get a taste of who you are and what you do. Online events are also a great way to meet other professionals from the field, see how they handle their digital brands, and tap into their audiences.
For both of these, you can generate lots of buzz and interest on social media and through your site. When you’re setting up an entrance fee, make sure it’s not overly expensive so that many people can join.
Pay-as-you go services
Not all of your clients and prospects will be interested in ongoing models of payment because it’s a fairly uncertain time for everyone. But it doesn’t mean you have to do all the invoicing manually. Instead, have a one-time-pay option for things like single video courses.
They can access as many times as they want and that you’ll keep updated regularly (without charging for the updates, nobody likes surprise charges for already purchased goods).
If you always promote the same brand(s) as part of your services, see if you can become an affiliate for them and have an income stream based on the commissions you get.
Or alternatively, if you are branching out and will have your very own products you want to sell, set up an affiliate option for your clients and fans to broaden your reach.
Pivoting can happen quickly, but not overnight…
Right now your focus is on taking your business online and digitise your offer and services and the businesses that can’t do that or don’t know how may not end up being viable.
But one thing I will say is that whilst you can pivot quickly, creating your branding, and content worthy of your brand will take some time. If you need help getting it all done quicker feel free to drop me a message and I’ll help you become a fully-fledged digital brand without losing what’s most important – your uniqueness!