- The adoption of digital technologies accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Leveraging these technologies during the “new normal”
- Virtual meetings, digital marketing, and new opportunities
By Denis Jakuc
Before the pandemic, digital and mobile technologies were already transforming the ways we do business. Then the pandemic saw millions working from home, client meetings and team collaborations happening online, and face-to-face interactions disappearing. This accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in business, to the extent that, as one observer put it, five years of progress was accomplished in five months.
Now many businesses are resuming a more “normal” form of operation. Yet, as has been said time and again, we’re heading into a “new normal”—not going back to the way everything was before the virus appeared on our shores. In this new business landscape, much of the digital technology that has sustained us since the spring of 2020 will continue to play major roles in our day-to-day business activities. Here’s a rundown of how you can use digital technology to help your business succeed in a post-pandemic world.
Virtual and hybrid meetings and events
We’ve all learned that virtual meetings with colleagues and customers can be convenient and efficient. You don’t have to wait for everyone to be in the same physical location, so people become more available. Plus, the format uses a host who controls access, so it’s easier to stick to an agenda and keep communications efficient. Virtual meetings will no doubt continue to have a role in the “new normal.”
Events were always major touchpoints for businesses to engage with their audiences, especially in the B2B arena. During the pandemic, these events were delivered virtually, in a webinar format where the host and a group of presenters could talk to a huge number of people who interacted with them through a “comments” function.
Virtual events are easy to attend and low cost. So, they should also continue to be part of the “new normal.” Now, you might also want to conduct meetings and events in a hybrid model, with some participants in the same physical location and others on the virtual platform.
Business development opportunities
Whether you’re prospecting face-to-face or using digital technology, now is a good time to ramp up new business activities. Here’s how.
- Offer to help. Many businesses and consumers were cash-strapped the past year and a half. Now is a great time to reach out and ask how they’re doing. People have had to shift priorities and make big changes, so showing compassion and offering out-of-the-box solutions will be welcome and could bring in new revenue. Checking in to say we’re all in this together is something everyone appreciates.
- Look to develop new partnerships. Seek out businesses with complementary products or services who target the same customers you do. This creates synergies, as you both capitalize on a shared network, and lends credibility to you both. In tough markets, partnering with a complementary business can give you a better perspective on how things are trending.
- Follow the data. Not every part of the economy is down. Data from public sources will show you which areas are growing. Use this data to target your prospecting. Economic disruption makes room for disruptive products and services. Cloud computing, e-commerce, 5G networking, e-learning, online grocery retailers, and anything that boosts supply chain efficiency are all growing areas.
Inside sales and digital marketing
The pandemic shut down face-to-face sales. This caused businesses to dial up their inside sales capabilities. Salespeople began using digital technologies, including social selling platforms such as LinkedIn, to connect with customers. This matched up well with today’s buyers, who actually prefer to use technology to get information and communicate. Businesses also found that inside sales have lower costs, higher productivity, and quicker training.
The pandemic increased the amount of time people spend on their phones, tablets, and computers. This accelerated the dominance of digital media, which in turn accelerated the importance of digital marketing. To be successful, you need a hard-working website. (See the IL Expert Summary, “How to Build a Small Business Website.”)
You also need a presence on the social media platforms your customers and prospects visit. You then need to use your site and social business pages to capture the email addresses of people who will opt into your email marketing program.
Mobile phone use has skyrocketed, with eight out of 10 people now finding businesses through their smartphones. By creating an app, you can maintain a presence in the places where prospects and customers are already spending their time.
For any digital technology you’re considering, before you make a decision, get a “yes” answer to at least one of these questions: Will it save us time or money? Will it make us more money? Will it dial up our competitive edge?
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InnovatorsLINK Business Writer and Brand Strategist
A business writer his entire career and successful businessman. He was a partner in a top-10 Boston ad agency, a senior level executive at Young & Rubicam NY and Interpublic Group, and, since 2003, an independent consultant for companies from startups to global leaders, positioning their brands and writing all forms of content to promote their growth.
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