Companies grateful for the pandemic forced them to expand their online presence

For many businesses that did not have an online platform as of March 2020, COVID-19 has arrived like lightning in a clear sky.

In order to overcome the pandemic, many of them have shifted their marketing techniques from low or no online presence to improved websites and improved digital reach with their advertising.

Three companies in the region approached the situation differently, but with the same end goal – surviving the pandemic in a world of technology.

Canvas n Cup

When Mahsa Ghavamian launched Canvas n Cup – an arts and crafts business – in December 2018, the platform was simple: she hosted bachelorette parties, baby showers, company parties. and open sessions where people would come to his Milford studio to sip, ”and have a drink while they painted or made ceramics.

A year later, that platform was unsustainable as the pandemic unfolded.

Social distancing made socialization impossible in his studio, and the entire business was potentially at risk.

But an idea changed the way he did business overnight.

“We used to have summer camps, after-school programs, paint and sip parties, you name it – it was all in person, but then COVID-19 happened and we couldn’t have people in the studio, ”Ghavamian said. “Overnight we had to change the whole business model and convert everything to virtual, which took a life of its own.”

Looking back a year ago, the new platform has worked perfectly, she said.

Canvas n Cup now offers kits that range in price from $ 15 to $ 55, depending on the type of craft the customer wants to work on.

Customers are given brushes, paint, a disposable apron, paper plates, mugs or ceramics. Then, they join in 1.5-hour live Zoom sessions, or use pre-recorded sessions to follow at their own pace.

A ring light illuminates Mahsa Ghavamian, owner of Canvas n Cup in Westborough, as she teaches an online acrylic painting course to a group of companies on November 19, 2021. Before the pandemic, her classes were all taught in person .

Thirty people on average join, but there are events where attendance rises in the hundreds.

On one occasion, Canvas n Cup hit the Zoom call limit of 300 participants, scheduled to accommodate another 50 in a separate session.

“It opened up a whole new thing, and that’s really where the revenue comes in,” Ghavamian said. “I don’t have to target small businesses or small groups of people. We are talking about big, big companies, that is, a big, big group of people. It’s just amazing. ”

The public has since changed in different ways, she said.

Canvas n Cup owner Mahsa Ghavamian is leading an online acrylic painting course at her shop in Westborough town center on November 19, 2021.

She now hosts the majority of her events on Zoom and focuses her advertising on social media, seeing people joining not only from outside the local areas, but also from Europe, the Middle East, Asia. and Australia.

“Also, the majority of people who showed up (before COVID-19) were women, but now a lot of guys are doing it and they love it,” Ghavamian said. “In their wildest dreams, they never knew they could do something like this. Some of them are so bad that halfway through the painting they just give up, but they like to interact with other people and drink their beer.

Remote working has also made it easier for Canvas n Cup staff to do.

Ghavamian said that in addition to an on-site studio manager, three other staff were working remotely, without whom “(Ghavamian) would be lost.”

But Ghavamian has not given up on hosting events in person.

Mahsa Ghavamian, owner of Canvas n Cup in Westborough, gives an online acrylic painting course to a group of companies on November 19, 2021.

Even though clients prefer to attend remotely, Ghavamian still hosts parties and open parties at her Westborough studio, where she moved her business in January.

“I hate to say that people have gotten lazy, but it’s so convenient and it can really connect everyone all over the world,” Ghavamian said of the Zoom sessions. “I’m still not ready to just convert it all. To virtual, because there are people out there who would like to walk into a place and have a glass of wine and really enjoy it.”

ladybug

As a mother of four, Lysa Miller has always found room in her life to start a business that has been able to stay on par with the tech world and reap the benefits the online world sees as a result of COVID- 19 pandemic.

In October 2020, she created a web design agency called LadyBugz, tackling a market that has adapted to the necessities imposed by COVID-19.

Early on, Miller of Hudson looked at early-growth companies in need of publicity. And the best way to advertise, she said, is to have a well-designed website.

She focused LadyBugz on working for businesses run by women, saying they prioritize web services to enable them to survive. She noticed it in the investment change proposed by women business owners.

“I never thought that women would pay me $ 20,000 to $ 30,000 to do projects for them,” Miller said. “These are the people who, like two years ago, would have spent $ 2,500 or $ 3,000. Now they realize the value if you really want to start a business and do a really good job you really have to invest. And I think the mindset is a huge change.

Despite the obvious need for online services, Miller said it took some time for some companies to understand the importance of a well-developed website.

But once they got the hang of it, it wasn’t too late.

“At first, a lot of customers weren’t in such a rush to get things live – I could redesign my website or I could redo my brand,” Miller said. “They didn’t start to see until six or eight months after the onset of COVID-19 that people online were already way ahead of the game.”

The need to make it online has driven tremendous growth, Miller said.

LadyBugz provides business services primarily in MetroWest, but biotech companies from California and even Canada have expressed interest in its web design services.

Seeing the pattern, Miller believes the future of web design will be in service specialization, where a web design agency won’t design for just any type of client, but instead will focus on a certain group.

“I think this industry will continue to grow,” she said. “Not just from my industry, but you know about digital agencies in general because I think agencies are going to start to specialize a bit more because I think it allows them to be more efficient.”

Well-being synergy

As COVID-19 rages on, Synergy Wellness – a yoga and mental health center in Hudson – hasn’t just been working on his breathing.

Owner Michelle Grasso said that prior to March 2020, the company provided services to patients in need of mental health solutions, which involved mental health counseling, yoga and acupuncture sessions.

But once social distancing was implemented due to the pandemic, Synergy Wellness immediately focused on Zoom classes by either streaming them live or sending recorded sessions to its Metrowest customers.

With insurance coverage extended in March 2020 to cover telehealth services, and technology becoming a key way to connect with patients, Grasso has seen its customer base grow – not only because the business is growing geographically, but also because of the nature of the technology and who is using it.

“We actually have clients who have never been to our center because they started during the pandemic,” she said. “I think we’ve been successful in attracting older people because they don’t feel comfortable being in person and feel comfortable at home. But we were also able to get in touch with young people with troubled adolescents, who can be more flexible in their time and if they can do therapy sessions online. ”

The nature of the services offered by Synergy Wellness, such as massage and acupuncture, also forced her to continue working in person.

But some of the customers prefer to do so. They use online services instead, which hasn’t helped revenues, Grasso said.

“We’re definitely losing business because of it in the sense that they also don’t see all the other good things that are going on there, because it’s really a holistic approach to wellness,” said Grasso. “But it helps some people who aren’t comfortable being in person and can jump on the live broadcast and enjoy it with the teacher.”

In addition, Synergy Wellness spending on technological equipment has also increased, from $ 200 per month before the pandemic to $ 1,000, to meet demand for these services.

Yet seeing how the preference for online services has grown exponentially, Grasso says telehealth is here to stay.

She believes so much in the potential of online services that in August she launched a fully online business called 360 Thrive, which offers functional medicine services – a holistic way of looking at health by creating a care plan for help change lifestyle or diet. , rather than using pills.

The future is bright, she said.

“I would like this to continue with the current range of services,” said Grasso. “It also allows our staff a lot of flexibility and of course we don’t need as much space and it improves access for customers because its flexibility for them. If it’s here to stay I’m happy with the mix.


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