As businesses look toward the third quarter of the year, many are still looking for ways to overcome the unexpected pains that COVID-19 has inflicted on their revenue models. With states and localities having widely varying re-opening plans, it’s only natural for businesses in every sector to be on the lookout for new ways to generate revenue.
To help your business find inspiration for its own COVID-coping and re-opening plans, the businesses below share how they’ve reimagined their revenue models over the past two quarters.
Adding Humanity to Membership Models
Before COVID-19, Scott Beaver, Ph.D. (affectionately known as Dr. Scott) and his company Easy Hard Science operated on a fee-per-course revenue model for its pre-recorded and live-by-chat video classes. With kids out of school for an indefinite time and parents’ needs to keep their kids learning, Beaver switched his business over to a membership model.
Now offering unlimited courses for a simple monthly fee, Beaver can overcome the trend he sees with how other companies are leveraging the internet during the COVID crises.
“Families are still stuck at home, and they are being offered all sorts of digital and mail order products,” says Beaver. “These products are safe, yet perhaps less human.” Easy Hard Science provides what Beaver refers to as “good old ‘service with a smile’” and believes that his commitment to personal service is why families want to join and then stay in his membership program. He experienced a 300% increase in revenue in just six weeks after launching his membership model.
“We spend hours and hours talking with parents and having learners in live online classes and suggest you do the same,” he says. “Don’t expect robots to keep your customers happy. The world wants and needs more humanity at this moment, even if it’s delivered in a digital format.”
Investing in Micro-Influencers
NuLeaf Naturals had a healthy revenue stream built up through retailers, which came to a halt once states and cities imposed shutdowns. That forced NuLeaf to rethink its revenue model and focus on one that would help it become more self-reliant in all economies.
No matter the circumstance, NuLeaf’s Vice President of Operations Ian Kelly knew that people still need to buy things, and eCommerce is the best bet in terms of safety. He helped navigate NuLeaf to a new revenue solution with micro-influencers through Instagram – online personalities with 10,000 followers or less.
“Micro-influencers are great for growth hacking social media without shelling out too much money,” says Kelly. “Investing in five micro-influencers with 10,000 followers is better than targeting one influencer with 100,000 followers. If you can find micro-influencers who are already fans of your products, it’s a great catch.”
Through NuLeaf’s micro-influencer campaigns, they’ve experienced a significant increase in engagement – especially direct messages from potential customers asking questions about their products. NuLeaf can now engage with new customers on a one-on-one level and start meaningful conversations that address a potential customer’s specific concerns. As a result, they’ve seen a rise in sales and plan to carry the micro-influencer marketing strategy alongside retailer re-openings and beyond.
Envisioning New Verticals
When you wanted to create or take a virtual tour – through a city, a haunted house, a historical monument – UCPlaces was the place you went to. Their app took you inside for a look at destinations far and wide, yet when COVID came along, tourism ground to a halt. Tourism was one of the main reasons people tuned into UCPlaces tours, for the self-guided experiences in new cities and countries.
“Since tourism took such a huge downturn, we were forced to adopt a new business model out of necessity,” says Mary Rutt, the company’s Director of Business Development.
As the company started rethinking revenue models, one COVID-related trend stood out.
“With folks moving out of crowded cities and rural real estate markets becoming flooded, we felt that the UCPlaces tour creation platform could be a great tool to help real estate agents stand out,” says Rutt. The only challenge was figuring out a way to create tours that real estate agents and their clients found beneficial. UCPlaces did their version of market research.
“We started by presenting the platform to a few local agents for their feedback. Our goal was to determine if providing tours to potential buyers would be something they’d find exciting,” she says. “The reaction was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and we knew this was a revenue stream we had to explore.”
Two months after having the idea, UCPlaces now targets real estate agents to create “where to live” tours for their potential buyers to learn about a new location and not have to be in the car with their agent.
“UCPlaces users can pop in their earbuds or connect to their car’s Bluetooth speakers and take one of our pre-recorded, GPS-led walking, hiking, cycling, or driving tours on their own schedule without needing to gather in groups,” says Rutt. “It’s perfect for social distancing.”
As you move into re-opening, the rethinking revenue models, such as the revamped models mentioned above, can help you identify new opportunities to keep the cash flowing in any market conditions. With a bit of creative thinking, you could discover that your next enduring revenue stream is easy to implement and can provide value for years to come.