Helping businesses through the Coronavirus Downturn

March 25, 2020
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Coronavirus has touched every business in the world in some way. High streets grow quiet as customers are warned to stay indoors and shop online. Businesses grind to a halt and staff are asked to stay away from the workplace or else risk spreading the virus.

All of this has a knock on effect so that even businesses that may not be directly effected by Coronavirus are still feeling it’s reach. As designers we’re lucky that we can (for the most part) work from anywhere. This week I had to shift from my city office to my home office, and I’ll be honest… it was literally just a case of throwing my mac in the car. Other than the view out of my window, and the proximity to excellent coffee shops, little else has actually changed for me.

But what has changed for me is the number of times my phone rings, and the number of enquires I’m getting in my inbox. With so much uncertainty in the air, a lot of businesses out there are hunkering down and saving what money they can just in case they need it down the line. For a great many business owners, that website update or a new marketing strategy has suddenly dropped to the bottom of their to-do list.

Which is unfortunate, as for some, that’s probably the best thing they could do for their business right now.

There are brick and mortar stores that exist in your communities that have been doing great, they’ve had plenty of footfall through the door each day, and never had to worry about things like advertising or social media. But right now their shops are shut. They are sat at home looking at their shop’s nasty old outdated website that was built in 1995 by their nephew, with it’s hit counter and scrolling marquee text, and it’s total lack of mobile responsiveness and they are shitting it.

These places may well be able to continue to operate on a delivery basis, but they just don’t know how they can take any orders, or how they let people even know if they could.

These places are desperate for a local designer/developer to reach out and help them!

These business need to get an online presence setup the day before yesterday. Now it may not be pretty – and nobody is saying this is going in the portfolio, but if you can get these business set up online properly, then that’s a new client who will be forever thankful to you. It’s a new relationship you can build on down the line.

Even if stores do have an online shop already, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be letting people know they’re still there. People are in a unique position right now where they are being forced into buying things online, even if in the past that’s something they wouldn’t have done.

Hell people are even being forced into buying things they’ve never even considered buying in the past.

A few minuets ago my brother invited me to a group called WOD, and asked if I was up for it during lockdown? If you don’t know what WOD is – you’ve made me feel better because neither did I. It stands for Work Out Daily – and it’s basically a random workout you get sent every day that everyone in the group has to do – the person who completes the workout the fastest wins.

What does this have to do with online markets? Let me tell you. I swim every morning – that’s my bit of exercise (or at least it was). I don’t have any gym gear at home. But to do this WOD thing, I’m going to need a mat and some weights. That’s something I now have to get online. I don’t buy a lot of gym gear, so I have no preference of where to shop. So if an online sporting goods store is running a marketing campaign right now, that’s probably the one I’ll see, and the one that will get my money.

Now I know this won’t work for every business out there, but it’s a good place to start. Even for the ones that seem hopeless, this is a fantastic time to do some out of the box thinking and start building an online presence.

Imagine a hairdresser doing a video tutorial for how to trim hair at home yourself for those that didn’t get a trim in time before the lockdown (that’s definitely me). Or the barista that gives his customers the secret to making coffee shop style foamy milk at home (it’s something to do with the microwave apparently? Don’t quote me on that).

These are all things that you can help with, and by helping yourself you’re helping your wider community.

This is going to be a tough time for everyone – but the worst thing we can do as designers is allow businesses out there to believe the situation is hopeless. Reach out to your communities, reach out to businesses and give them a lifeline.





is owner of Hunting Town Design, a small design house based in Manchester UK specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration. Alex is also the founder and editor of The Design Range. Find out more about Alex on his website or follow him on twitter.
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