Why evolving your business right now is critical
Humans don’t like change very much - this we know for sure. But in business, everything is constantly evolving because the industry is constantly evolving. Anyone who has wanted to cling to how things were will be in for a surprise this year, as COVID-19 entirely shifted the original paradigm. However, it’s also presented an opportunity: for businesses and individuals to evolve into new ways of being. COVID-19 hasn’t just turned the world on its head, but it’s accelerated trends that were already happening, such as the shift to remote work and the collective desire for more convenience (such as doorstep delivery and in-home haircuts).
Still, some business owners don’t want much to change. This could be due to fear of the unknown or fear that leaving their old business model, which had worked so well for so long, could be catastrophic. However, we’re reaching a critical impasse where the businesses that don’t evolve may very well fade out of the picture. Evolution is a natural part of all of our lives, and our businesses are no exception. Here are some ways to consider evolving with the times, even if you’re also coping with the fear of change.
1. What Is the Competition Doing?
Every wise business owner has one eye on other businesses in their industry. This doesn’t (necessarily) mean their competition, but it’s important to pay attention to major shifts. For example, when COVID-19 has just hit, many major events took a hint from South by Southwest (SXSW) deciding to cancel their annual conference. This helped them stay ahead of the curve.
Notice how the businesses in your industry are changing their offerings, their marketing efforts, and how they communicate with customers and clients. This doesn’t only ensure that you’re performing on par, but this can give a hint as to what customers want and how you should brand yourself. Businesses don’t make changes unless they feel their customers need or want them, which means most of these decisions are dictated by some degree of market research. If you haven’t done your own yet, paying attention to other businesses can be a tip-off of changes coming your way.
2. Listen to Your Customers
In some cases, you’ll start to hear from your customers what they need. Take these comments and requests seriously. For example, if you are a stylist and you’ve recently started to offer virtual styling appointments and your customers ask you to make daily style videos instead because they get more from them, heed the call. Or, if there’s something you’re doing that’s not as effective or valuable as it could be, trust that even the complaints and critiques from customers can serve your business.
You can open yourself up to this feedback by sending out surveys or simply asking clients when you’re on calls. Ask, “what can we do to serve you better during this time?” and take diligent notes on their responses, seeing how you can incorporate their requests into your new business model. Jeanne Bliss noted in Customer Think that to do this properly, we must shift from seeking to validate to instead, seeking to understand.
“Surveys sometimes can act as a validation of points we’ve predetermined to be important that we want customer’s rating of our performance on. Now, those predetermined items are likely not completely relevant. The world has shifted and so have your customers’ priorities and goals. The companies that will rise out of this the quickest, both financially and in earning customers’ memories that your company cares, will find ways to learn and understand your customers’ pain points, their priorities and where you can add value,” she writes.
3. Double Down on Marketing
Right now may seem like the worst possible time to double down on marketing, but business case studies say otherwise. Sitting down on a zoom with the co-founders Peter Beshay & Seth Westphal of Boss Creative Agency, they shared interesting information with me about just this.
“When everyone else panicked and shut down marketing to save money wherever they could, companies like Popeyes Chicken kept pushing out marketing even though they haven’t let people step foot inside in months, and you know what? Their revenue is up over 40% from last year already,” Beshay & Westphal noted. “They spent more money on advertising while making sure that their business model would fit within the rules of this ‘new normal,’ and now they are not only safe but thriving during the pandemic era.”
This story creates urgency around the opportunity to market, even now, but Beshay & Westphal emphasizes that your marketing message must be timely. “One of the questions businesses need to be asking themselves right now is, ‘Does my branding speak to my audience the way it needs to in today’s world?’” he posed. “What might have “worked for years”, may have become completely irrelevant. My personal favorite is the idea that a company is going to “wait things out” as if everything we know is going to go back to exactly how it was pre-pandemic even though most analysts agree that consumer behaviors will have forever changed.”
One thing is for sure: nothing can stay the same in a world that has evolved as much as ours has this year. While the future remains uncertain, businesses can stay ahead by choosing to evolve however is necessary, with a focus on providing value to customers at the forefront.
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