Adapting Your Digital Presence in a New Business Environment

Adapting Your Digital Presence in a New Business Environment

Big Ideas

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July 16 2020
Big Ideas

Earlier this month, Marty Fisher, CEO of Sherpa, was invited on the Conquer Local Podcast with host George Leith.

While George was intrigued by Sherpa’s Adopt a Business Challenge initiative - that aimed to support businesses in the community affected by COVID-19 with free marketing services - ​they also discussed how COVID-19 has impacted the economy and marketing online.

George: That’s the issue, is we have this disease, but then we also have this economic impact… because it’s impacting people’s livelihoods. I had somebody say to me one time, a business owner, that’s how they feed their kids. And when you look at it that way, that’s a whole different way of looking at it.
You’re like, “It’s a business owner, and they’re making all this money, and they drive a nice vehicle and live in a nice house.” No, they’re paying for groceries and they’re hoarding toilet paper, and they’re doing all the things that they need to do to support their family, and it has a greater impact than just that one door that we’re looking at.

Adopt a Business Challenge buildings with businesses

So, I applaud you, and we share the same passion; the initiative that we undertook as an organization was to protect local. So, we have this idea of conquering local, helping businesses conquer this marketing thing, which is a beast and we’re gonna get into that in a moment, but then how do we protect our local economy? How do we protect the coach of our kids’ soccer team who happens to own the bike shop down the street? That’s really who you’re looking to help with this initiative and you get immense kudos for me on that. Now, let’s talk about marketing. It’s always interesting to me to talk to a marketing expert like yourself, someone who’s been in the business for a long time. Someone told me the other day that COVID-19 is a forcing function for digital transformation, do you believe that to be true?

"It's forced, let’s call it for lack of a better term, the digital laggards to take those steps into making sure that they have a decent digital presence." 


Marty: Yes, that is 100% aligned with our experience. We started our business in 1996 and always took a digital-first mentality. And so, Sherpa Marketing actually made its first website in cold fusion in 1998. And we did our first AdWords campaign in 2002. And so, we’ve always been well-positioned and a little bit out in front of the digital world and it feels like if anything, the pandemic has forced people to kind of catch up to where we were, we always kind of felt like we were in the future and so while some of our more traditional services, were not very busy or not busy at all, our digital marketing team and software developing group is really, really busy and this has forced, let’s call it for lack of a better term, the digital laggards to really make that investment and take those steps into making sure that they have a decent digital presence.

George: So the ability to conduct business online, I’m using that as a catch-all because I think depending upon the type of business that it is, e-commerce is exploding and that again, is this forcing function. I think what’s happened is anyone that was able to conduct business online during this event is now being held up as a poster child in the various communities, the word of mouth is spreading, and they’re telling stories of, no, we were actually able to keep a revenue line, we had fewer expenses because, whatever it might have been government subsidy or God forbid, but a layoff or furlough of some staff, so they kept the cost down, so they were able to continue business.

But it’s not always about a shopping cart and having inventory online, there’s more than that when it comes to conducting business online. Can we talk about some other verticals, and how those other verticals could adopt digital solutions to continue to be able to operate if they have to lock the door, and put a, we’re shut down for a couple of days type sign up there because I think the thing lurking in the background is this could happen again.

​"Over 90% of purchase intent is informed through an internet search"

Marty: Yeah, absolutely, and you made a really good point. It isn’t necessarily about the ability to do e-commerce, it might be simply the ability to be agile and edit a page that says your hours of operation, or that you have curbside pickup or how you’re responding to the safety protocols for welcoming people back to your store. So there’s something that I’ve really kept close to my chest and something whenever

I’ve done keynotes is a very simple stat, over 90% of purchase intent is informed through an internet search. So, think about it, when was the last time any of us made any sort of a consequential purchase without grabbing our phone or grabbing our tablet, computer, whatever, and getting at a Google search and typing something in? It’s not just, what can I buy from you? It’s, when are you open? Where are your locations? Like I said, what is your protocol? And the ability to be agile in making those updates is really actually what’s probably more important than anything, is just keeping your information up-to-date.

George: It seems to me, and I’m sure to some of our listeners to the podcast that have been around for the last three years that we’ve been having the privilege of speaking every week to this listener base, are like, “But we’ve been talking about this for a long time.” And we have digital marketers that were out in front of the curve have been saying, on Facebook, you should be talking about your products and services, not only buy my stuff, but about what your mission is and your vision and talking about the staff members and their resume, and what they bring to the table.

So it is a lot more than just the ability to take a bike and put it into a shopping cart, I’m using a bike analogy because I bought a bike online, but it’s more than that, it’s around, imagine if your customer base was nervous about getting into a confined space with extra people. You know what, that is a thing that we need to be aware of because consumers are concerned about that. So to your point, I think it’s a very good one, having that panel on the website or on the social media profile or wherever the consumer is finding that business, I don’t know if a lot of businesses would be thinking about that messaging. And I’m glad that you brought it up because, for our listener base, their kids are being fed by servicing those local businesses and helping them by being the trusted local experts. So it’s more than just being able to conduct business online. It’s being able to conduct business at your physical location and the first question is, are you even open? And I’m even asking that question for some things I’m thinking about buying later on today.

Marty: There you go.

https://sherpa2017.blob.core.windows.net/images/contenthub-posts/07-2020/tim-mossholder-v5re1loi264-unsplash.jpg


George: I’ve gotta go to this one store; do I drive across the city? Or do I try phoning them to see if they’re even open? …. I get beat up sometimes because I’m always the glass is half full, but what I see this as, we’ve been preaching the gospel of online marketing for a number of years, now we have this thing that’s happened and the business owner may be ready to buy now, like they buy when they’re ready and the need has now met the demand, has now met the solution that can be provided, it’s a bit of a perfect storm and are you hearing that as well from your clients and from the people in your circle?

Marty: Yeah, it is the perfect storm, that’s a great analogy. It’s the confluence of all these things happening and everyone needing to respond in kind and while I certainly, my comments seem very focused on website, I would also give equal importance to having an effective social media presence as well. I just saw a stat, not that many months ago from a really reputable source, the GlobalWebIndex and I was absolutely stunned to see that more than 50% of the search for products is now actually done in social channels, I was absolutely blown away.

George: Some incredible stats.

Marty: Yeah, it is. And so, so now, as a small business you really should be thinking about all the swimming lanes that you need to be in, probably occupy the whole pool, you can’t just swim in one swimming lane, you gotta jump in and swim in all of them.

Listen to Marty’s full interview HERE
Learn more about the Adopt a Business Challenge and our adoptees:
https://sherpamarketing.ca/adopt-a-business

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