Businesses bolted into 2020 with firm plans and optimistic outlooks.
All that evaporated by mid-March as the focus turned from thriving to surviving for most companies. Now, as this turbulent year enters its final stretch, a new question lies just over the horizon.
What will 2021 bring and how can businesses be ready?
The future still seems so uncertain and the end of the pandemic still feels a long way off, but despite that there is a lot that businesses can do to prepare for success in 2021. I’m sure 2021 will come with its own unexpected twists and turns, but I am also confident there will be potential.
All the unknowns make planning a challenge, but it’s possible to begin gathering hints about how the world will operate going forward.
You just have to know where to look.
I suggest business leaders should take the following steps:
• Review what you learned in 2020. Think about what you did this year to maneuver through the hazards that came your way. What worked? What didn’t? What would you do differently? Use what you’ve learned to get your ducks in order to manage your business in a manner that meets both your needs and your customers’ needs. Then, ask yourself what the future may hold and how you would handle whatever comes up.
• Talk to your best customers. Find out what they want and need, and how they anticipate their lives — or businesses — will look in 2021, especially post-pandemic. Learn how your product or service will fit into the flow. Do they want you to continue delivering your product line in some virtual way, or is it important for them to be able to come into your facility for a real sit-down to discuss what they need and view the options in person? Does your solution lie in providing the best of both worlds, offering virtual visits alongside opportunities for physical interaction? Or is the right option something you haven’t yet explored?
• Look at what your competitors are doing. Review how they are reaching customers today — and whether you can glean any insights about what they may do tomorrow.
• Rethink how to use your marketing dollars. In-person events, such as speaking engagements, trade shows, or conferences — where you could network with potential customers — were put on hold because of the pandemic. They might not return all that soon in 2021, so I suggest exploring other options for getting the best use out of the dollars that would have been budgeted for those events. That might mean pitching the media more to land radio or TV interviews. Or you might consider publishing a book that tells your personal or company story and can be given to clients and prospects.
Can your business handle the unexpected if something you couldn’t possibly anticipate were to arise, as happened in 2020? If the answer is yes, chances are you’re ready to play in a post-pandemic world.
Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of “Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant,” is the CEO of Advantage/ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com) which he started in 2005. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing.