Latest Survey Shows Post-Coronavirus Optimism for the Future of Business

Last week’s ENX Magazine survey of readers indicated that the impact of coronavirus may linger for well beyond the point when states phase in their respective economic openings. This week, we wanted to see how office technology dealers, OEMs, distributors, suppliers and related businesses are positioning their marketing endeavors in order to continue engaging with their clients.

From a demographic standpoint, 53% of respondents hail from the dealer community. Nearly 10% constitute supplies resellers, and 7% represent MPS companies. OEM directs, VARs and remanufacturers each came in around 5%. More than 27% of responders are from the Midwest, 22% are from the Northeast, 21% are from the Southeast, and 19% are from the Southwest.

Even as the national quarantine completes its seventh week, there are signs of optimism surrounding the long-term viability of companies. We asked the question “How do you feel about the future of your business?” Nearly 48% counted themselves as “quite confident” and about 32% replied, “somewhat confident.” Only 16% termed themselves “less confident” while less than 2% responded, “not confident at all.”

Looking ahead to doing business in the post-quarantine era, we asked, “Currently, what concerns you the most about future growth?” Slightly more than 60% indicated “a sluggish restart to the economy.” More than 23% expressed concerns about “permanent volume reductions” while 7% cited “low customer confidence.” Just 4% indicated they are “not concerned” while write-in responses cited they were worried about a sluggish restart extending into the fall and the uncertainty surrounding the timing of a reopening.

Given that safety precautions will remain in place well after states open the economy, we asked respondents “What will be the biggest adjustment your business will need to make once the quarantine is lifted?” With a multiple-choice option, about 51% cited “making appointments/sales calls.” More than 22% selected “maintaining social distancing at work.” Arming technical service personnel with social distancing measures garnered 19% while converting back to on-premise working was cited by 18%.

Marketing Messages

All indications point to in-person events being drastically cut back for at least the next three to four months, if not longer. We asked respondents “From a marketing perspective, will you be using online events, such as webinars or virtual conferences, in lieu of hosted events for the balance of 2020?” More than 60% said they would and 22% indicated they would not, with the balance reporting it did not apply to them.

We also asked respondents “What types of virtual events they would hold to boost customer engagement,” providing for multiple choices. Leading the way was technology-based webinars at 38%, product-based webinars and virtual conferences with seminars at 35% each. Write-in options included one-on-one Zoom meetings and small, on-site demos.

With in-person engagement severely curtailed, we asked respondents “Have you ramped up social media marketing efforts for client engagement?” Nearly 60% said yes and 34% no. We followed that up by asking “What kind of social media messaging have you been employing to engage clients, employees and followers?” With multiple-choice responses, about 41% cited “posts regarding sales promotions/specials.” Roughly 38% chose “posts about customers, employees or other partners.” More than 28% responded “fun/offbeat posts to entertain” and slightly more than 25% selected “support of doctors/nurses/first responders.”

That question revealed the breadth of messaging being offered, as 27% cited “other” themes. They include recorded messages to clients, industry news, document management, remote work enablement, radios PSAs offering free technical service to new clients, and providing aid to front-line personnel.

Industry Mobility

Will members of our industry take to the sky once the all-clear has been given? We asked respondents, “Once the quarantine has been lifted, how long will it be until your company permits/encourages air travel for business?” A full 41% said it was “Too early to tell.” Almost 14% projected “Three to six months.” Slightly north of 12% said “Within a month or two” while only 7% responded “Immediately.” Another 5% responded, “Not until 2021.”

With dealers, IT providers and others assisting companies in client conversions to work-from-home scenarios, we asked, “What is your view of work from home/remote working as an ongoing business opportunity?” Nearly 29% said, “It’s a modest ancillary offering.” The belief that “It will provide significant, measurable volume” was cited by 23%, while the same percentage said, “It provides a minor, temporary boost.” The question did not apply to about 22%.

Finally, we asked respondents, “What is your company’s position on the subject of customer forgiveness?” With a multiple-choice option, nearly 41% reported, “We’ve worked out temporary/creative plans for customers.” Another 31% said, “We have offered deferrals, credits or reductions on leases” (conversely, 4% said they have not offered the same). A total of 31% said that “Customers have not sought forgiveness.” The question did not apply to about 10% of respondents.


That 80% of respondents are either quite or somewhat confident about the future of their business bodes well for the industry, particularly at a time when states are beginning to roll out their phased openings. A stronger social media push and creative ways to engage customers in a virtual fashion suggest the industry is gearing for sustained social distancing measures. Businesses are working out arrangements with their clients at a time when expenditures are being kept to a minimum. While uncertainty remains about how long it will take the economy to get clicking on all cylinders, the office technology industry appears poised to adjust to the “new normal” it is likely to see.

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.