Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve noticed a trend across many industries in which innovative new ways to virtualize previously in-person services have become a norm. Did you ever imagine that you’d be doing online hair consults with your hairdresser? Or doing video calls with your doctor? How about yoga and fitness classes through Zoom? Thanks to some out-of-the box thinkers, there truly is a new normal in business.
If your company is trying to find a way to virtualize your services and maximize reach across your audience, we’re going to share a few brands that have found success in this new ultra-virtual world for inspiration. We’ll also share a few thoughts on how to tell if virtualizing your services is a good move for your company or not.
Let’s start with a few well-known brands that paved the way during the COVID outbreak:
It was a sad day for many when the gyms shut down. And while the idea of working out at home might have seemed like an easy feat in the beginning with all that extra time, without someone to lead and push you through the workout, it’s possible that it wouldn’t happen at all. Planet Fitness began offering free virtual workout classes via Facebook Live and online training sessions. While this didn’t directly increase their profits, it was a great opportunity to reach their entire audience (hello, free workouts?!) who will now have Planet Fitness at the top of their mind, and social media feed, when gyms are back in full swing.
Tip: A free virtual service is a perfect example of thinking outside the box during a time of uncertainty and change. It might not directly help your bottom line now, but the foundation is being laid for future customers and raving fans. We’d certainly call that a success.
Take a walk around your neighborhood and there’s a good chance that someone has taken to a few home remodeling projects during our stay-at-home orders. Thankfully, the Home Depot has been there for us all in a time when we’ve spent more time in our homes than ever before. If you’ve ever been inspired to repaint a room of your home, you know the drill (no pun intended!). It’s off to the hardware store, grab a handful of swatches, go back home and try to imagine that tiny square covering your entire wall. Not the most effective way to pick your paint color. The Home Depot recognized this and created an app, ProjectColor, which helps homeowners pick out and preview different paint colors right from home – all on your smartphone!
Tip: Apps can be a great way to expand your service offerings and add extra value to existing products and services.
With the country in lockdown and many states requiring a period of quarantine before you can go out into public, short term home rentals were bound to take a hit. Shortly after the pandemic began, Airbnb extended their Experiences offering to a new branch called Online Experiences. It’s a way for people to virtually host an experience so that others from around the world can try something new. A few of their Online Experiences include cooking classes, music lessons, even an opportunity to get up close and personal with the bees (virtually). This innovative new branch of Airbnb’s offerings allows the global travel community to stay connected at a time when we’re required to be physically distant.
Tip: Expanding a current offering or creating a new and relevant branch of business is a great way to keep your customers engaged during this time. Just remember, it has to align with your brand, audience and message in order to be an effective tool.
To virtualize or not to virtualize…
So, are you feeling inspired to virtualize an aspect of your brand? When deciding whether or not to take your offerings online, there are a few questions to pose to help you come to a decision.
- Can your services effectively be delivered online through some sort of video platform or app? It might seem trendy to virtualize right now but if the reality is that your services just don’t translate into an online setting, it might not be worth the investment to try to force something to work.
- Are there new offerings that could be created in an online platform that are still aligned with your brand? This is the time to think outside the box. Just remember, whatever you come up with still needs to align with your overall brand. You could poll your audience on social media or send a survey via email before running with any new ideas. Remember, starting something new must still meet the needs of your existing and potential customers.
- Will virtualizing aspects of your company help to attract a larger audience than you have now? Even if your offering is something along the lines of what Planet Fitness did and will not yield additional profits, it’s possible that a free or low-cost offering is the perfect way to attract a larger audience base and potential new customers.
If your brand is ready to go virtual with a new or existing product or service, it’s time to start. Do the research and implement a strategy that will allow you to hit your goals. As always, be sure to reach out to our team of branding and marketing strategists as you transition into your new normal. Send us an email to start the conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org.