The COVID-19 outbreak has completely changed the way we live, the way we do business, and the way our economy functions as a whole. Many states are still in lockdown. More people are being asked to work from home. Video conferencing and Zoom have replaced face-to-face interactions.

And with so many people being asked or choosing to spend the majority of their time at home, it’s been an especially difficult time for many small businesses.

But there’s one business model that’s booming in the midst of the coronavirus crisis—and that’s home delivery.

More consumers than ever are turning to delivery services to get the products they need (for example, downloads of the grocery delivery app Instacart increased a whopping 218 percent from February, before the pandemic really hit in the US, to March, when staying at home orders started to roll out across the United States). So, if you want to continue to drive sales, you should definitely consider pivoting your operations and moving towards a delivery model to better serve your customers.

But how, exactly, do you do that? Let’s take a deep dive into how business owners can run a successful delivery company during the COVID-19 crisis (and continue to drive sales and revenue as we navigate  the new normal):

Figure out how to pivot your business model to delivery

If delivery is uncharted territory for you and you’re offering delivery services for the first time, the first step to running a successful delivery company? Figure out how to pivot your current business model to delivery.

How to successfully pivot to delivery is going to depend on your business, your customers, and your bandwidth, but some questions you’ll want to keep in mind when figuring out your delivery strategy include:

  • How will we deliver to our customers? Are we planning to partner with a third-party delivery service or are we going to handle deliveries in house?
  • Are we going to be delivering our full product offerings or selected products? So, for example, if you’re a restaurant, are you going to be offering your full menu for food delivery or a limited menu of delivery-only items? Or, if you run a chain of grocery stores, are you going to list every item in your store for delivery or are you going to focus your delivery service on surplus inventory?
  • What additional support do we need to pivot to delivery services (for example, additional staff, delivery bikes or vehicles, packaging, etc.)
  • What kind of opportunity does delivery add to my business? For example, if the majority of your customers are within a five-mile radius of your business, there would be a lot of financial opportunity in delivery services—but if your customers are spread throughout the state, building an e-commerce website and shipping your products might make more sense.

Handle the logistics

Once you’ve figured out how to pivot towards delivery, it’s time to tackle the logistics of adding delivery services to your business.

While every business will have different logistical issues, some of the logistical tasks you’ll definitely want to tackle before launching delivery services include:

  • Figure out your costs. Your delivery business isn’t going to be sustainable if you’re spending more money to deliver your products to your customers than you’re making on each sale; you need positive cash flow to make it work. Look at all the costs associated with making deliveries (including gas and labor) to determine the minimum order amount and maximum delivery area that makes sense for your business. So, for example, you might deliver within a 5-mile radius for orders over $15—and any orders below $15 or outside of your delivery area would only be eligible for pick-up/take-out.
  • Adjust your inventory and supply chain management as necessary. When you move your business from an in-person to a delivery model, you might need to adjust your inventory and supply chain management to support your new business needs. So, for example, if you run a clothing boutique, you’re not going to need as many in-store display items (like hangers or racks)—but you are going to need more boxes and bags to package your deliveries—or if you’re a restaurant and you’re shifting towards a limited delivery menu, you’re going to need to adjust your ingredient ordering to support your new dishes.
  • Figure out staffing. Just like your supply needs may change when you pivot to delivery, so might your staffing needs. As you’re moving towards a delivery model, look at your current staffing and scheduling and determine how you’ll need to adjust to support your delivery services (for example, hiring delivery drivers or scheduling more staff to fill delivery orders during busy shifts).
  • Look into additional insurance needs. If you’re going to be handling deliveries in-house and transportation wasn’t a part of your prior business model, you may need to get additional insurance coverage to cover yourself and your business in the case of an accident or injury. Talk to your insurance company to see which option is the best fit for your business.

Develop a system for managing delivery orders

When it comes to deliveries, there are a lot of moving parts; you need to keep track of your orders, collect a payment, assign orders to delivery drivers, and make sure that each order is making it to your customer quickly, efficiently, and with each item they ordered and paid for. Without a clear system in place for managing your delivery orders, things can quickly devolve into chaos.

Which is why you need a system in place from the get-go. Before you launch your delivery services, you need a clear plan in place for:

  • How customers submit orders (for example, will you be taking phone orders or should customers place delivery orders for your website?)
  • How customers submit payment
  • How orders are fulfilled (for example, who is in charge of fulfilling orders as they come in? How long are you estimating it will take to fill orders?)
  • How to assign delivery times
  • How to check orders are accurate before they’re sent out for delivery
  • How to assign orders for delivery drivers
  • How to confirm orders are delivered and received by the customer

Once you’ve developed your delivery system, it’s important to make sure you implement any necessary technology (for example, secure payment processing or an order processing system) and train your staff. That way, when you launch your delivery service, everyone knows exactly how to take, fulfill, and deliver orders to your customers.

Spread the word about your delivery services

You can’t run a successful delivery company if no one knows you’re offering delivery services. So, one of the most important aspects of launching delivery? Getting the word out.

If you want your delivery services to take off, you need to let people know that you’re offering delivery. If you’ve been closed, email your customers to let them know you’re reopening as a delivery service. Share discount codes on your social media profiles to encourage your customers to order delivery. Look for creative ways to generate buzz around your new delivery services, like partnering with other small business owners to deliver local product packages or offering free delivery for frontline healthcare workers.

The point is, a clear marketing strategy is a key part of building any successful business—and if you want your delivery service to succeed, you need to spread the word to as many customers as possible.

Covid-19 Delivery Service

Image Credits

Implement safety measures for your customers and delivery staff

The well-being of your customers and delivery personnel needs to be the top priority when you’re delivering in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—and that means taking the necessary safety precautions to protect them.

Make sure your team is practicing social distancing and taking proper sanitation measures when fulfilling delivery orders. Provide face masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves to your entire delivery staff. Offer contactless delivery options to minimize exposure between delivery personnel and customers.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can’t be too safe, so make sure you’re taking any safety precautions recommended from the CDC and World Health Organization and are doing everything necessary to protect yourself, your staff, and your customers.

Deliver your way to a more sustainable business

There’s no denying that small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19. But by adding delivery services to your current business model, you can build a more sustainable business to carry you through these uncertain times—and emerge stronger on the other side.


This article by Deanna deBara was originally published at hourly.io


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

All of us in the events industry are seeing some stormy skies at the moment. Some have already felt the stinging rain of canceled events or missed payments, and the rest of us are waiting apprehensively, sure that a flood is headed our way. It’s in these unsure, stormy days when it’s wise to do everything we can to prepare for when there’s sunshine again. This is when systematizing your online marketing can be absolutely crucial to both making it through the storm in one piece, and also in thriving once we’re back in the metaphorical sunny days.

Every company’s marketing strategies are unique, but I’d imagine most will center around three primary outlets: Facebook/Instagram, your own blog, and Pinterest.

Facebook/Instagram

Conveniently positioned as “Everyone’s Favorite Quarantine Pastime,” Facebook and Instagram are a fantastic way to market your business broadly, and to encourage word-of-mouth sharing among your friends, your clients, and all their friends. Since pretty much no one is shooting right now, you may decide it’s a good idea to work through your back-catalog and highlight some favorite events or shoots from past years.

Showcasing past work has the double-benefit of:

  1. showing off your unique skill and artistry, and
  2. reminding people *just* how long it’s been since they had their photo taken.

Planting these seeds early and semi-often can help your business pick back up when all this is over, and might even give you the opportunity to pre-sell sessions or events and keep the income flowing in the meantime.

The best part is that you can do this for free, avoiding Facebook’s frustrating and confusing advertising metrics, and keeping your cash in your pocket. Facebook’s algorithm rewards photos that are easy to share and are widely embraced. That means that if your photos are beautiful and aren’t uploaded at too large a file size, Facebook will put them in front of more people. Additionally, the more engagement your photos get, the more people Facebook will show them to. So encourage likes, comments, and conversation, and be sure and put yourself in the middle of that to spur on further engagement.

BlogStomp can help you prepare your images for Facebook by sizing them perfectly and adding a logo/website watermark to ensure your friends’ friends’ friends can easily find where and how to get a hold of you to book their own session.

BlogStomp

Preparing Facebook images in BlogStomp

Your blog

Where Facebook and Instagram have the advantage of breadth of reach, your own blog has the advantage of depth. No other place on the internet is a stronger resource for seeing the full catalog of your photography work than your blog, so making sure it looks the way you want it to, showing off the best of the best of your work, is paramount.

While you have a bit of down time, use it to go back through your blog — publish any not-yet-blogged shoots you want to show off, revise or re-dress any older posts that need a freshening up, and thoroughly examine the look and feel of your blog, ensuring that your site visitors don’t get bogged down or confused by any elements that can be removed.

While you’re at it, give a thought to your SEO. Consider which keywords you’re including in each post, and check for readability and flow. You might even want to revise older posts, as your business direction may have shifted over the years.

BlogStomp makes it easy to maximize your SEO with custom file names, and you can include alt tags and title tags when you publish directly to your WordPress blog.

Pinterest

So we know that Facebook and Instagram have their strengths in “word of mouth” online marketing (tag your friends, their friends see it, they send it to their friends, etc.) and your blog has the depth of SEO pull and evergreen content.  Where Pinterest shines is in what we call “Stranger Sharing.”

Pinterest doesn’t rely on personal connections to serve up your content to people. If they get to pinterest.com and search “Springtime Farm Wedding” and you’ve got images on Pinterest with the phrase “Springtime Farm Wedding” in the description, they’ll see it. They may see it and like it. They may even see it and fall in love with your photographic style. There’s even a chance they’ll want to see more of your work.

Make it easy for them to find you by watermarking your images, being intentional about tags and keywords, and including your website URL in your descriptions and file names.

BlogStomp is essential in this online marketing process, too. You can create a style for Pinterest that is set to the width you want to share, then assemble unique collages sure to attract the right kind of attention to your website.  Potential clients will do their part and search up the stuff they want to see, and BlogStomp will have done its part to help make sure they see your images first.

Blogstomp

Create Pinterest collages in BlogStomp

And since many current blog themes allow you to activate a “Pin It” button on your blog images, using BlogStomp to rename each image or collage in a way that points people back to your website is invaluable when others share your work on Pinterest and forget to credit you in their comments.

Let’s get started

Ugh, sheesh — all of this sounds like just a TON of work.

Well, it sort of is. On the one hand, yeah, it’s a lot to get done. But on the other hand, what else have you got going on right now?  : )

While it can feel like a lot to do, BlogStomp makes it easy (and, dare I say, fun?) to get it done. Let’s admit it — none of us got into photography because we wanted to spend endless hours in front of a computer working on our online marketing. These days, we all have a stronger relationship with our mouse and keyboard than we do with our camera. I honestly don’t know if the biggest threat to one’s photography career is creative burnout or carpal tunnel syndrome!

But BlogStomp is your way around all of that. For over ten years BlogStomp has helped tens of thousands of photographers around the world to prepare their images and marketing pieces. It is built to execute many tasks quickly and easily, and then to get out of your way.


This article by Chip Gillespie was originally published at Honeybook.com

About the Author:

Chip Gillespie

One of StompSoftware’s original founders and a Houston-based wedding photographer, Chip is the ultimate all-rounder helping to drive the development, user experience, online marketing and support of the business. He’s our man on the ground in our biggest market, and he wears one helluva mustache.


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

 

About Twitter

Are you a webmaster? If so, your website should generate income for you. Whether you sell a product, a service, or generate income through the use of affiliate links, internet marketing is important to your success. A successful internet marketing campaign will generate website traffic, as well as income and using a platform such as Twitter will increase your chances of a successful campaign.

In terms of internet marketing, there are many ways to market your website. In fact, you may be overwhelmed with your options. To get started, you may start with the most recommended approaches. These include submitting articles to article directories with bank links attached, purchasing advertisements on popular websites, exchanging banners with other webmasters, and learning search engine optimization. Yes, these steps are important, but there are benefits to thinking outside-of-the-box. When you do, you will find Twitter.

Twitter is a social networking micro-blog. At first glance, Twitter looks like it can be fun, but also distracting. Yes, it can be, but it all depends on how you use the service. If you aren’t already a member, register for a free account. Choose a username, password, and provide your email address. The next step involves developing a list of contacts. These are individuals whose updates and Tweets you will receive and follow. Look for others to do the same for you.

To make contact with other Twitter members, you can search based on email address, name and location. If you belong to online community, ask for Twitter exchanges. This is ideal if members are your targeted market. For example, does your website share work-at-home opportunities? If so, post Twitter link exchanges on work-at-home related message boards. These individuals will benefit from clicking your links and visiting your website. The more contacts you make on Twitter, the easier it is to market your site.

Twitter

image credits: Pixabay

How it Works

Once you have developed a following on Twitter, you can start marketing your website. This is also where you can make costly mistakes. Twitter, as previously stated, is a social networking website. For that reason, avoid spammy advertisements. Instead, be clever and social about it. A great introductory post is “Thanks for following me on Twitter. I just finished updating my website, tell me what you think.” First, this offers a personal introduction. Next, it accomplishes the goal of increasing page views.

When you receive followers on Twitter, you are encouraged to return the favor. This is not required, but it can work to your advantage. You will receive Tweets or updates from other members. These updates may include daily updates on activities, but questions are commonly asked. Does someone on your follow list complain about the long drive to work? If you run a work-at-home website, respond with an @reply. Your message could say “Yes, I remember those days. I am glad I now work from home. Did you know that you could too?” and provide a link.

In addition to responding to @replies from those you follow, visit Search.Twitter.com. Messages that are public will be displayed. In keeping with working from home, use targeted keywords, such as work from home, employment, and online jobs. Remember, be sure to include a personal message, but always include a link to your website. In addition to just answering a question, become a follower of the other member.

As for why you should cleverly market your website, it has to do with personalization. In the above mentioned example, you provided a link to your website, but you also provided a personal message. This shows that you are truly reading Tweets and not using Twitter for the sole purpose of advertising. When consumers feel used, they are likely to turn away. If you notice your followers on Twitter decreasing in numbers, it may be because your messages sound like spam.

In short, Twitter has the potential to be an amazing internet marketing tool, but use it wisely. Including a quick personal message with @replies and cleverly incorporating your website link into your Tweets is the perfect way to advertise your website, as it is an advertisement in disguise.

Learn More

 


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