4 Digital Lessons The Coronavirus Has Already Taught Us. Lesson #1

Lesson #1: Digitization Is An Inescapable Doctrine For All Businesses

What was to be the digital roadmap to 2030 is now the roadmap for 2020. What we were planning to do over the course of the next 10 years, we will need to do over the course of the next 10 months. For all of us, that realization is a tad bit frightening, but also enlightening.

When we resurfaced from the depression of 2008, our hibernation accentuated our greatest resource of all, American Ingenuity. Companies like Uber, Groupon, Airbnb, WeWork, and many others, were the result of our deeply rooted spirit of iconoclasm, invention, and single-minded originality. We came out stronger, more resistant, less prone to body blows, and more prone to doing what The Champ said before his fight with Sonny Liston, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Yes, we were leaner, more agile, with greater flexibility, like a butterfly. And now, here we go again.

The Coronavirus will force our hand toward greater digitization and an overwhelming need to embrace e-commerce; even if you don’t think your business is a candidate for online sales and interactions. E-commerce is your new cash register, not just a lifeline, but a goldmine. From designer belts to conveyor belts, from swimming pools to pool cues, and from professional services advice to just about any vice you sell, the customer journey is going to start online and stay online for the next several years.

Or quite possibly forever.

More than ever, we will need to define the omnichannel sales and marketing ecosystem. And to some extent, we’re already doing it. Let me give you an example. Curbside pick-up for restaurants, electronics stores, hardware outlets, groceries, and many others is the bulls-eye in the intersection of digital and physical. In spite of facilities being closed, we’ve opened up an entirely new way of thinking and purchasing. While we’re not experiencing in-restaurant dining, we’re still experiencing their product; while the menu is no longer a piece of paper where no data was collected, now the menu is a digital data collecting warehouse of insights that can be used to further consumer engagement. That former piece of paper is now our Pièce De Résistance.

Starting now, we need to align our digital channels with our physical channels, and we need to strengthen both, soon. The good news is it’s not that difficult, or expensive. Adding e-commerce to an existing website can, in many cases, be an affordable way to generate revenue and incremental sales. Even if you didn’t think you had a product or service to sell online, our team at TMA+Peritus can probably help you.

But it’s not just adding e-commerce to the equation, it should go deeper than that. In an effort to align all of your omnichannels, and assuming you’re not ready to make the leap to Augmented and Virtual Reality, think about adding videos to your primary product display pages. Use your top salespeople to marry the physical channel to the digital channel. Have them provide a quick overview of the product, and use other tactics to create a store or showroom environment online like weekly store tours, inventory review, new usages for old products, and the beat goes on.

With Internet usage up 70% in the last two months and online purchases up $175 billion in that same period of time over last year, today is the time to pursue omnichannel strategies. And to add to this importance, what was once the peak time for Internet usage, 7:30 PM, has now been supplanted by the new peak time, just before noon. You can capitalize on the revised usage statistics and create your own revenue stream right now, at a time when you can own the eye-balls. But keep this in mind, there are three important components of a successful e-commerce addition to your website:

  1. Tell a remarkable story, if you don’t, you’re just a commodity
  2. Accelerate the checkout process and offer plenty of payment options, both traditional and non-traditional; that’s what people are asking for now
  3. You must have an agile platform; the ecosystem is changing by the day, so you’ll need a platform that can change daily, if necessary

And with plenty of despair surrounding us, here’s some good news. Like 2008, we’ll resurface stronger; and here’s why. Our omnichannels will be more completely defined. That means we’re going to know our customers better and on deeper levels. And when we know our customers better, we know how to message more meaningfully, succinctly, and strategically. Let’s never forget, the more we interact with them, the more they’ll transact with us.

Next Up, Lesson #2 – Case Study: How A Website Brings People Together When We’re Told To Stay Apart: An Interview With Jason Ilstrup, President, Downtown Madison, Inc.

Tom Marks is a sales and marketing thought leader, speaker, and author. He has written Of Socrates, Plato & Aristotle: How Thought Leadership Drives Stronger Sales, Marketing, and Corporate Ethics. He is also the creator of The 21st Century Disciplines of Market Leadership. Tom is the President of TMA+Peritus and a 66-time winner of the American Advertising Awards, he can be reached at