We are finding that many of our clients are using lessons from the pandemic to seriously retool and even reinvent their businesses. We’ve all seen this very vividly and dramatically in the restaurant sector this past year, where only the clever (and/or well-financed) survived. Some of their “pivoting” was amazing, and some even became a totally different type of establishment altogether and permanently.
For other types of businesses, it may not have been as obvious or as visible. But COVID-19 changed our overall economic environment, social systems, consumer behavior, and what buyers now expect and demand. These sweeping changes have directly affected the foundational business models that companies have been operating with for decades.
Many businesses have found that they must now step back and re-evaluate everything. Their customers have probably changed in some drastic and lasting ways, and it is imperative for them to meet their customers where they are now – which from an economic, emotional and core business model standpoint may be very different.
So start with your typical and/or most critical customers or clients. What is important to them now that wasn’t a year ago? Have their motivations and expectations changed, and if so, how? If you have been cranking along providing them with the same product or service for years, how has the past year altered their needs?
For some of your customers, these changes may be minimal and subtle. For others, they may be material. Many businesses found themselves doing a top-to-bottom inventory during the past year of what products and services are necessary vs. optional. It is critical for you to land in the necessary rather than the optional bucket. How do you ensure that this happens? How do you morph your offerings to meet changing needs and requirements?
Obviously, one way is ask your customers. Take the time to inventory any new needs or preferences that they have. If your customer base is large, consider investing in some market research to better understand their current mindset and what your business needs to do in order to stay relevant in their world.
Be sure that you understand how the new normal has changed their behavior and mindset:
- Has there been a shift in personal and/or business priorities?
- What about budget allocations and investment plans?
- Have buying requirements and purchasing processes changed?
- What do they value today that they didn’t care about this time last year?
Answers to these questions will inform your company’s overall positioning and go-to-market strategies. You need to develop a clear picture of foundational changes you may need to make. And then – you need to tell your customers and prospects about these changes.
To summarize, here is what I believe is necessary for businesses to market successfully in a post-pandemic world:
- You must understand what has changed for your customers and meet them where they now are.
- If you have business systems that need to change as a result of studying your customers’ current needs, pivot quickly to retool these systems.
- Finally, be sure to proactively tell your story of change, innovation and new product/service offerings.
Cathy Ackermann, founder and president of Ackermann Marketing and PR, may be reached at [email protected]