The new year is almost upon us and, with the pandemic still raging full-bore, it is challenging to try and look too far ahead.
As difficult as it is to forecast the future, making preparations for what we can reasonably believe will happen in the upcoming months is a must. None among us, of course, has the ability to precisely predict, for example, how consumers will respond when COVID vaccination peaks in the springtime or how businesses will respond to a new presidency.
There are, however, certain characteristics we consider as we develop marketing and public relations approaches for the immediate future.
Recognize the increased emphasis on health and safety
A recent Consumer Index Report by Ernst & Young reports that 26% of consumers surveyed prefer brands and products they trust to be safe and minimize unnecessary risks. Fifty-seven percent say they now pay more attention to how healthy the products they buy are for them.
So how does this translate to your business?
First of all, it means that consumers will continue, at least until they feel less threatened by COVID, to deal remotely. Projected even further, that means that your business must make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Outdated software or barriers for people to reach you or conduct business with you can be a deterrent to retaining existing customers or attracting new customers.
Upgrade your ability to connect with your customers online
According to an eMarkerter report from June, the average U.S. adult will spend 23 more minutes on smartphones per day in 2020—and that was in June!
We are socializing, working, shopping, and more—online. It’s not just Gen Z and Millennials anymore; it is all of us.
Though digital fatigue is real, there are certain digital experiences to which consumers are growing increasingly accustomed, like buying online and picking up in a store, curbside pickup or home delivery. Your website and social channels are now the front door to your brand or business. Looking ahead into 2021, this may translate to tactics like brief virtual events, online channels and creating video content to tell your story more effectively.
Keep you staff’s tech skills equal to those of your customers
The COVID threat has accelerated behaviors with a speed that no one could have forecast. Business professionals routinely conduct Zoom meetings, and youngsters attend classes without showing up in a classroom. People attend exercise classes online and talk to their doctors in virtual visits. The scale and magnitude of these changes is absolutely staggering.
This huge shift in behavior means your employees, particularly those who are in frequent contact with your customers, need to clearly understand how to work the levers of tech interaction.
So how to upgrade your staff’s tech skills?
Some people are resistant to new technology because they don’t see how it’s any better than the current system. Your employees may be thinking, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The problem with that attitude is that they may not realize how broken the current system is.
If you want your workforce to be more tech savvy, you have to make them want to be more tech savvy. It’s never easy to get people to do things they don’t want to do.
Start by showing them how your technology will make their jobs easier. Just saying it will benefit them may not be enough.
Have them work side-by-side with someone who has embraced the technology. Your tech-savvy employees can demonstrate how easy it is to use and how it will simplify their job.
And, finally, look to the future with confidence
All of us want to return to “normal,” but, realistically, we must recognize that “normal,” will never be the same at it was before COVID.
Even after suffering through the ravages of a pandemic that none of us ever could have anticipated, Americans still possess a tough, resilient spirit that is seeing us through a period of uncertainty.
Given the exceptional abilities that have made our nation the leader of the free world, we find a way to create and prosper in a new normal.
No one, of course, can accurately predict what a new normal will look like, but by examining and responding to trends that are manifesting themselves in the marketing world, we can be better prepared for what is coming and how to adjust to it.
Happy holidays to all and a safe and prosperous 2021
We wish all of you a happy – and safe – holiday season. And we join each of you in hoping that we turn the corner toward an even more positive life as we will know it once the pandemic is behind us.