One thing the global economic crisis at the beginning of this century demonstrated was the fragility of business. Still fairly fresh in our minds is the evening tv reporting of longstanding household names being turned into nothing more than nostalgia overnight. Healthy contingency budgets meant nothing if the business couldn’t adapt to changing consumer trends.
In 2015, the economy is slowly getting back on track, but the lessons of seven years ago are equally valuable. If any business is going to survive the next ten years, adaptation is key. The consumer of 2015 is different to the consumer of 2005. The consumer of 2025 will be different still.
The five key points that need to be raised around every company’s boardroom now:
Digital strategy is not an option
Much like in the early 2000s when businesses started to realise that having a website was fast becoming the ‘norm’, in 2015, a digital strategy is something that company leadership has to work hard to justify not considering.
Businesses must realise that digital media hasn’t simply added another level of customer interaction, it has changed the whole dynamic of the sales process. In the year 2000, a young twentysomething may have heard about new fashions by talking to friends on the phone and then arrange with the same friends to spend a day on the high street. In 2015, the same consumer could equally see a new style on their Facebook timeline recommended by a friend, finding themselves reading a blogger’s opinions and then finally visiting a high street retailer’s website to check availability in store with a view to reserving the item. Not having a digital strategy means ignoring the reality of modern-day consumer behaviour.
Search will probably play a role in your marketing development
Search marketing has evolved rapidly for a miriad of reasons. One key factor that has played a role in search becoming a popular advertising tool is the fact that the customer is actively searching for you. This is in stark contrast to television or other forms of display advertising which rely on catching your eye (or ear) and strategic positioning. A company appearing in search results is entirely convenient, helpful and mutually beneficial for both the searcher and the searched-for.
It’s certainly not the case that every company needs a comprehensive search optimisation plan but it must be clear that being invisible online can keep you entirely off at least one playing field.
Social media is as much a brand tool as your logo
The growth of social media has been nothing short of impressive. It’s strange to think that ten years ago Facebook simply didn’t exist but has since evolved to have a subscription base greater than the population of all but a few nations on earth.
A brand is an integral component of the outgoing company message and assuming a company adopts social media, it is going to become one of many brand touchpoints. Not just the visual appearance but the tone of messages, the quality of content posted and the company’s eagerness to use social media platforms as a customer service tool all place social media firmly within the crosshairs of brand considerations.
The use of social media for business is still developing and the reality is that a great deal of businesses are using it ineffectively. But over years to come, standard practice will almost certainly develop and the social networks themselves will respond to a growing desire for businesses to gain access to their target audience’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.
The online and offline worlds are coming together rapidly
Most of us are at least vaguely aware of QR codes on posters, augmented reality in magazines or social media hashtags on the menus in restaurants that encourage you to post in order to win something. These examples unequivocally make it clear that offline and online media are not mutually exclusive.
By ignoring digital, you rule out the effective use of many proven, revenue generating, awareness increasing techniques.
Your marketing technique can’t be stuck on ‘broadcast’
Traditionally marketing communications have been a “broadcast medium” insofar that the public can’t communicate with a poster advert in the street, but they can send you a message or reply to one of your ads through Facebook.
The modern consumer expects to be treated as something more than a source of revenue, but this need not be a disadvantage or cost to the business. Digital media allows businesses to open up to the public, gain trust and allow brand loyalty to flourish. The age old concept of word of mouth promotion now happens in seconds and the word can spread to millions over a matter of hours.
We are now in an era of two-way communication and the customer holds a lot of power over how you’re percieved by others. Your digital strategy allows you to influence this perception, protect your brand and offer excellent customer service, all in the public view.
2025 is 10 years away which sounds like there’s plenty of time to get everything in shape. But if we remember the sobering fact that Facebook was less than 1 year old by the New Year of 2005 and businesses are still considering it a ‘new concept’, it means we all have to get on board now.