Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The pandemic changed the way hundreds of millions of people access goods and services. Online shopping, delivery services and remote work strategies have suddenly become a mandated feature of the modern world. Many marketing, sales and other work processes have required adaptation to accommodate this new reality, and it was inspiring to watch the speed and scope with which such changes took place. And even when the pandemic is fully behind us, a number will be worth keeping.
1. More digital marketing
Digital marketing was already big before 2020, but now it’s absolutely essential for virtually all businesses — to connect with target audiences and gain leads as well as nurture relationships with existing customers.
And if you’re a digital marketer, your potential client base has likely grown exponentially; just about every company is now in need of such services. To further expand that base, look for potential clients everywhere, from out of state to downtown to right in your neighborhood.
2. Innovate or be left behind
Technology accelerates quickly; initiatives and philosophies from even five years ago no longer work. Think of the big businesses you knew growing up. Are they still around? Many of them had to file for bankruptcy because they failed to move with the digital transformation.
Disruption became evolution, and when businesses are slow to respond to changes by pivoting or implementing new techniques, it could lead to disaster. Now, almost all are upscaling their technology and digital marketing strategies to stay on top of the game. Don’t be left behind by your competitors — adopt early and innovate quickly.
Put simply, late adoption is no longer an option. Join the pioneers! Launch that new product line… try out that new strategy or tool. Do it now. You can’t afford to wait it out. Fail fast, and see what works.
3. Adopt a direct-to-consumer mindset
Considerations of how to improve your business should always be consumer-centric. This is why big brands have funny or witty ads. They have active social media pages — are interacting directly with consumers without relying on retailers as a go-between. More and more have their own stores online — are no longer depending on retailers to carry their brand (as well as their competitors’).
Digital marketing is booming in part because of the need for brand experience. People remember how a company touched them or made them laugh, or how fast their question was dealt with by customer service. Delivery, packaging and product descriptions: all of these elements of consumer experience affect your brand in the eyes of customers. And while it’s good to have distributors and retailers, you need your own site and your own branding.
Everything you do and plan now should be at the service of your consumers, which will serve your brand.
4. Rapidly respond to customers’ needs and expectations
We know about big brands that adapted product lines to answer new demands created by the pandemic. Take, for example, food and beverage companies that started producing and bottling isopropyl alcohol, or sports companies that switched from manufacturing helmets to PPE. Many of these branded products were also offered directly to consumers rather than via retail.
With the pandemic, an even larger portion of the population got online with their purchasing power, which is why more and more businesses included (or became entirely) an online shop.
Technological innovations certainly have the potential of making the customer experience better, but at the same time, people have higher and higher expectations when it comes to their online shopping experience. The immediacy and availability of online information has given them an appetite for having inquiries or solutions addressed promptly. So, talk to your customers to find out what they need, how they want those needs met and so on. For example: If your competitor has next-day deliveries, your customer will expect that from you, too, and if they are getting used to responsive mobile sites, you can’t expect them to just be able to access yours on their laptop.
The pandemic changed the way companies do business. Today is all about making things easier and quicker, especially when it comes to the online shopping experience. So, discover and use apps and platforms that can help you bring your product or service to customers. Stay apace with trends and meet their ever-changing expectations.