The Art of Proactively Adapting
Note: This post was originally published on my business website – spiritedwolfmedia.com.
It feels like we have front row “splash zone” seats to a really bad “B” version of Groundhogs Day. Only we aren’t escaping this without a major case of whiplash.
As soon as we think it’s over – we wake up the next day back at square one.
How do you persevere in a pandemic that feels like it is never going to end?
As a business owner – how do you balance the needs of customers, requirements of CDC, society at large, and running your business so that your employees are healthy and taken care of and the lights stay on?
Am I the only one who feels like I am fighting an uphill battle…but in quicksand and a blizzard of epic proportions pelting me in the face?
Move too slowly…you freeze…and then sink. Move too fast…and you may miss the offramp.
You have to find that sweet spot where you don’t risk losing an audience that is eager to find you but yet you aren’t making careless mistakes that will turn away potential customers WHILE ALSO keeping conscientious messaging at the forefront.
One misstep and the internet never forgets.
Yet, companies cannot survive in a post-pandemic world without adapting to an online presence And not just any online presence – it must be authentic, it must be inclusive, and it must be emotional.
You can try to escape where trends are heading. If you succeed – my DM’s are open to hear your secret.
Say hello to my friend P.A.W.S:
Proactive Adaptations in the Wild Strategy
(ok I need to work on my acronyms…..)
We are in a constant state of either being proactive or forced to react. Eventually – with practice – we all have the ability to find a balance between the two. But it is not going to be easy. And you will most likely have to venture outside of your comfort zone.
Proactive adaptation is understanding what your prospects are going to need before they know what they need.
Surprise! That’s why we are business owners. We exist because we have something the world needs…they just might not know it yet.
My job as a copywriter – is to make sure your market finds you when they need you and not a second later.
Proactive adaptation is meeting your prospects – where they are. Don’t give them the highly technical details if all they want is the cute selfie at a landmark in your store and the bumper sticker reminding them they were there.
But more than that – proactive adaptation is more than curbside pick-up and online ordering.
Doing business today – means creating relationships with your community and building goodwill with your customers.
Doing business today – means partnering with other small companies and helping boost each other up.
Doing business today… means pivoting to where the market needs you – not where you need the market to be.
(Obligatory PIVOT Gif. Sorrynotsorry. If Pivot isn’t in the running for word of the year – then an opportunity was missed and I will die on this hill)
Every piece of your brand needs to be cohesive and strong. From outdoor signage to the text on the receipt. All pieces of the puzzle that tie your company’s experience together to form lasting memories of your company.
As the world is in the throes of radical change – it’s the perfect time to try something new to stand out from your competitors. And honestly – it’s not that hard to do right now. The bar is low.
Make one of your guiding principles People and Planet before Profits and your off to the races.
But – I don’t sugar coat anything (sugar coating actually costs extra) – so let’s get straight to the hard questions:
Will you survive this time? Have you looked at what you did to adapt to see how successful it was? How did you remain connected to your customers? What can you do this time? Is it time to implement strategies for the long-haul rather than a band-aid until things return to normal? What would those strategies look like? What does normal even look like anymore?
I could continue the interrogation but you get the gist.
Online Marketplaces No Longer a Ghost Town
It is no secret that the world has embraced e-commerce since March 2020 – growing exponentially by 46% (source).
According to eMarketer Editors, “$5 trillion [in e-commerce sales] will be achieved in 2022, $6 trillion by 2024…[and] in 2024…21.8% of all retail sales will take place by e-commerce.”
Regardless of your niche, your market, your prospects – it would be foolish to operate without an E-commerce strategy. Forget the days where you could show up at work and the customers would trickle in – sustaining you in the lean months.
We have arrived in the future where companies have to hustle to find their audience AND persuade them to buy.
E-commerce is a necessary evil at this point in human history. We can’t live without it – but the struggle to find a balance is real.
For example – it is becoming harder and harder to find large ticket items – in stock, on hand – at a brick and mortar store.
We had to buy a new fridge and every store we went to – we still had to wait 2 weeks for it to arrive. Supply chain disruptions are everywhere you turn. As a customer – that is frustrating. We would have understood if the company was up-front and said XYZ was on backorder.
But instead – they lied to us. Three times. How the company we originally went through handled the fiasco – left an unfortunate stain on our perception of that company. We still love the company based on our decades of patronage so we will continue our relationship. But it will be with an asterisk.
Acing your Customer’s Journey
Every. Single. Potential. touchpoint your company has with prospects – is going to frame and reframe how they view your company. Over and over again.
We all know that details of bad experiences are spilled virtually almost immediately. Good experiences are hard to build – but worth it in the long run.
From the first ad or post or article they see – to the customer support human taking the call – or chat – or email.
Even waiting curbside can leave customers frustrated (source).
So note to self – own your mistakes and/or your shortfalls. Acknowledge them. And learn from them. Sweeping them under the rug and hoping the world will forget about them – is not a stance you can afford anymore.
When the world came to a halt in 2020 – companies that adapted – struggled to find the sweet spot, but those that persevered – are still going strong today.
Adapting is not going to be easy. But companies struggling to change course – flirt with the odds of becoming a relic of the past.
I bet you can think of a company or two – probably a restaurant – that has had to shutter their doors because they couldn’t, didn’t, or wouldn’t…adapt. I know I have a handful of food carts that I miss.
There is a 4th storm surge upon us. Companies must be proactive. And this time – conscientious changes MUST be adapted for the long haul.
Not just until the 4th wave is over.
Embrace & Normalize Standing Out
Disruption is the name of the game these days. Civilized disruption of course.
Standing out in a crowded room is the new normal. It is no longer something to be scared of or afraid of. Doing this differently than they have ever been done before – has become a concept to be embraced fully.
If you are not questioning how you can push the boundaries (ethically of course) – you need to go back to the brainstorming room. Full Stop.
I am only going to discuss a few proactive adaption strategies. For a more thorough list of ideas – do a google search for “company adapt pandemic” and nearly 35M results will be returned. Not all of them will work for you.
Shameless plug: If you would like help narrowing down some potential strategies – I would love to chat with you to see how we can make your dreams a reality.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty shall we…
Have to close your brick-and-mortar stores? Utilize different delivery methods and channels available – but ONLY those channels where your customers are at. If your customers are not on TikTok – why are you spending marketing dollars there?
Did your supply chain get disrupted? Start improvising like the MacGyver you were when you started your business. Maybe it’s time for a new product or a different type of service. Oh and be proactively transparent with your customers. Please. As a consumer – I am begging you to make this part of your philosophy.
Wonder why some customers aren’t returning in-store?
- Question #1…are you on social media?
- #2. If so – what are your customers saying?
- #3. Are you delivering your customers – what they want?
Returning to a sense of normalcy after more than 500 days is harder than some companies want to believe. At this point – our brains have begun to re-wire.
From here on out – your strategy must take into account balancing customers that don’t want to come back in-store with those that cannot wait to stand in line on Black Friday. Companies can no longer afford to ignore one side while catering to the other.
People before Profits: Building Community in 2021
Whether these people are your employees or your customers – how you interact with them – will make or break you.
Regardless of company size – if your employees are not happy or your customers don’t feel valued, respected…trusted even – then whatever strategies you decide to try – aren’t going to work. No matter how much money is thrown at the problem.
2021 and beyond – people AND the planet – MUST come first. There is no future without this guiding principle.
What does that look like? That looks like meeting your customers where THEY are.
- If they can’t leave their home because they are in quarantine, or medically homebound – that means making everything from your website to your online order process to your packaging – easy and reliable.
- Target audiences don’t know you exist? Educate them on the platforms THEY use. If you have products you can demo – TikTok and YouTube might be your game-changers.
- Strike up conversations with your social media following. Get their buy-in, their feedback, their ideas. Heck – find some random comments and reply like you are a human looking to make a friend – not a business looking for the sell.
- Provide value wherever your customer can find you – from search engines to affiliate posts to ambassadors to straight website content.
- Reach out to your local community and see how you can help them.
- For example – maybe you are a massage therapist clinic able to partner with a bookstore to provide/donate/sponsor – your local First Responders a much-needed break.
- Or maybe you make a thingamabob that would help local students overcome their anxiety with returning to school.
- Or just partner with another local company to boost both your ROI’s
The strategies for long-term proactive adaptions – can be as bold as your imagination dreams.
Putting people first might not increase your ROI right away. But the long-term goodwill that your company creates – will outlast this pandemic – putting you light years ahead of your competitors.
But be forewarned – when goodwill is built for the sake of “kudos” and “look-at-me’s” – just forget it. You have to WANT to do good – to do good. In other words – goodwill comes from the heart – not the wallet. Got it? Good.
Why a Long-term Strategy?
Whether people want to admit it or not – we are in the middle of a 4th surge and this one is out of control thus far – like a chicken with its head cut off. No one is safe. People are less at risk but no one is safe.
Not yet at least.
You adapted by forming a few layers of band-aids until things returned back to normal.
And then, one by one – the mask mandates and the emergency declarations lifted. Things returned to normal.
It was exciting.
It might have been slow as people who have been away from public spaces for over 500 days – battle their new anxieties. But you consciously didn’t rip off the band-aids. Instead – you slowly returned back to what life used to be like.
If no one has told you – thank you for allowing a lot of us to ease back into the real world.
Did you know that some communities thrived on the strategies you implemented? I am a mom with neurodivergent children who can’t stand going grocery shopping. I can’t imagine a world without curbside pick-up.
While the world stopped – communities and companies have made progress towards making sure ALL of our fellow humans are included in accessing the real world. Whether you knew it or not. Let’s not stop the momentum.
This is inclusivity and it is going to propel the world to a more empathetic humanity.
Honest question here – what does another lockdown/stay-at-home order – look like for your business?
At this point in the pandemic – we are all fatigued. EVERYONE. From kids to business owners to grandparents and everyone in between. Even animals – or at least mine would rather have free rein of the house back…
We are exhausted. We are tired of doomscrolling and we are frustrated with crises after crises that keep piling up.
Some of us are entering this next surge with a little more anxiety and a fresh desire to never return to what life was like pre-pandemic.
Are you ready for your audience to never return back to what your company looked like pre-pandemic?
If the strategies you implemented the first year worked (and still working) for your company – I’d love to hear more about what worked for you and what didn’t.
You have worked hard – fought hard – the first 3 waves of this pandemic. Let me help you persevere with a little less anxiety and a few more hours of sleep.
There is no going back. So let me help you ensure you are prepared for the future.
In the meantime, Adventure on with Curiosity,
-Kelly Steele, MBA (she/her)