The global COVID-19 pandemic has hit every business around the world hard. Enforced lockdowns, global economic uncertainty and a lack of a viable vaccine have halted daily life on most aspects. Companies are reacting to the virus with a greater sense of worry, panic and business withdrawal.
Under normal circumstances, these reactions wouldn’t make much sense. However, these times are anything but ordinary. Businesses are taking drastic measures now in the hopes that one day soon, things will revert to normal.
But here’s a frightening but entirely realistic thought - what if this is the new normal, at least for the near future?
The new normal - threat or opportunity?
When it comes to business, changing market conditions usually point to either threats or opportunities. Most enterprises have responded overwhelmingly in the negative. They see the outbreak as a threat to their business operations, and for good reason.
People are staying at home. Gyms are closing their doors. Bars are shutting down.
In short, people are not spending their money, and this has a trickle effect on nearly all industries.
On the other hand, some companies are taking the opportunity to appeal to people staying at home, offering incentives to use their products for home entertainment or as a solution to conduct business remotely. Many of these companies are offering ‘quarantine-timed’ deals that are only available during the global lockdown.
This begs the question - is this change in our daily lives and business circumstances a threat or opportunity to organisations? Or is it something in-between?
We’d like to propose a third conclusion. This state of events is the new normal, and the sooner businesses adopt this mentality, the better they’ll be prepared for the future.
Going on the facts
As marketers, we are trained to make decisions based on data. The attitude of ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’ isn’t more appropriate than when marketers make business decisions. We make decisions based on data, hard facts on user behaviour, website metrics, and what proves ROI. It stands to reason that we should be thinking about the circumstances of this pandemic in the same way.
What do the facts say?
The economic slowdown isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
With this fact in mind, businesses who are reacting to the current change in economic conditions as a threat will have a long road ahead of them. While their tactics may work for the short-term, defensive business practices only stem the slow bleed of lost revenue and employee expertise. No matter how large an organisation is, they can’t operate using defensive business tactics for 18 months or longer.
The fundamental problem with these organisations is that they’re planning for the end of the pandemic. They expect life to return to business as usual. The truth is, we should be working on how to live with the ‘now’. We must adapt to the current situation that we are in and make the most of it.
How businesses can prepare for the now
A change in mentality comes with changes in business, and working with the new normal will require some changes. Here are a few to consider.
Change your mentality
During the Vietnam War, Vice Admiral James Stockdale spent seven years being tortured in a Hanoi prison. When asked about his experience, he noted that optimistic prison-mates eventually broke, as they passed one imagined deadline for release after another. Stockdale’s strategy, instead, was to meld hope with realism—“the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail,” as he put it, with “the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts, whatever they are.”
Preparing for the new normal is about changing the way you think based on the obstacles in front of you, not by imagining those obstacles to no longer be there in the future. Businesses today must adopt a similar mentality to Jame Stockdale and focus on the now until that obstacle is no longer relevant.
Prepare for remote work to become more common
The global pandemic is forcing a lot of businesses to implement remote working conditions for their employees. While this may seem shocking from a traditional business perspective, the trend for working from home has actually been on the rise. The current change in working practices is an excellent trial run for how organisations may eventually operate as the norm in the future.
Now is the time to prepare, experiment and get familiar with remote working tools. Our recommendation below follows some of the tools we suggest for remote working, but we have written a blog post on this very topic.
Tools for remote work
- Project management tools: Monday.com
- Team collaboration platforms: Slack
- Marketing automation: HubSpot
- Accessibility and cloud storage: GoogleDrive
- Time management and productivity apps: Harvest
- Virtual meeting tools: Zoom
Use digital marketing
Right now, and in the foreseeable future, people are going to be behind screens for most of the day. They also have more opportunity to read and watch online content in the peace of their own homes. Digital marketing is by far one of the most effective ways to market your product during these times and perhaps beyond as we shift the way we work and conduct business.
Tools like marketing automation, email marketing and targeted web-ads will play a critical role in deciding which businesses get ahead and which are left behind.
Take care of the talent
Many businesses are closing their doors in a defensive posture waiting for all this to blow over. This has led to mass layoffs of professionals in all industries. As a business preparing for the new normal, this is an opportunity to not only keep your best employees but to acquire new skills and business relationships.
Leave it to the experts
The first thing businesses tend to do when faced with tighter budgets is to cut off their marketing and acquisitions. This is a defensive tactic that works for the short term but has long term consequences. Marketing has an organic growth trajectory that gets better with time and patience. To cut it short and let it wither away is a critical mistake that businesses make, setting them back with years of work. Without an influx of customers, companies will close - and marketing is the best way to get those customers through the door.
Partnering with experts in areas such as marketing enables you not to have to worry about changing circumstances while still keeping vital functions of your business operational. While you focus on keeping your business running, a marketing agency can focus on how to obtain new customers and support your initiative.
Be prepared for the future
These times are frightening for businesses and economic outlooks indeed, but only by facing these challenges head-on and adapting will companies survive. If you would like to prepare for the new normal with an expert who has years of experience with changing and challenging circumstances, contact Demodia.
With experience in some of the most volatile industries around the world, Demodia is a marketing partner you can rely on. Contact Demodia, and we can start to prepare your company for the new normal, today.