Director of Sales at Radd Interactive | Connector | Contributor | Brand Consultant
With the onset of new and ever-changing technological advancements, the world is evolving perhaps more rapidly than in any other time in history. These changes affect not only our personal lives, but they dramatically affect commercial and economic environments. Naturally, in response, businesses both small and large must roll with the punches, so to speak, in order to compete and ultimately survive. While there are certainly innumerable examples of ways in which industries have modified their business models in order to accommodate a changing digital world, the following are four approaches that are relatively easy to implement and somewhat universal to most successful commercial enterprises.
Take Advantage Of Online Opportunities
First and perhaps foremost is the need to capitalize on the latest online opportunities. A mere 25 years ago, businesses that had their own multipage websites may have been considered cutting-edge. Today, however, a website may represent a relatively small portion of a company’s revenue-generating model.
Modern online business innovations include virtual platforms on which a prospective client can navigate, manipulate and thereby understand as much as possible about a company’s operations and services. Networking is another source of online opportunities that nearly all successful businesses must employ in a growing digital market. Because digital connectivity is an almost endless possibility in today’s technological world, a business should assume that its competition is actively networking and, in turn (to put it bluntly) must adapt or risk perishing.
And let’s not forget the ever-elusive universe of search engine optimization (SEO). Just a few decades ago, a website manager might have been able to optimally position a business site by adding a few metatags, keywords and descriptions. Today, these are less likely to prove sufficient for generating revenue. As unpalatable as it may be, modern businesses may have to dedicate modest percentages of their advertising budget to search engine platforms in order to drive customers to their website and survive the competition. Both SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) strategies (which my company helps with, but you can also pursue independently) can be extremely profitable in this digital economy.
In terms of human interaction and in light of the recent pandemic-generated workplace isolation, many businesses have hosted online happy hours for both their clients (existing and prospective) and their employees. Not only do these events foster a sense of “togetherness,” but they also offer wonderful opportunities for relaxed, verbal interaction … a somewhat rare occurrence in a text-messaging-oriented business environment.
Be Adaptable And Flexible
All of the above play into the second way to pivot in a digitally changing business environment: recognizing the importance of adaptability and flexibility. Retailers who have been forced to close their brick-and-mortar locations have found innovative ways to attract and interact with customers and thereby generate a continuous flow of revenue. They have done so not only by employing the online opportunities I have already discussed, but also by creating digital education sources. In that way, an organization can train and enlighten both clients and employees in a virtual, in-person group environment without requiring each person to travel physically to a common meeting place.
Another increasingly important aspect of online commerce is the discount opportunity. Traditionally, and in years past, I’ve seen discounts fall somewhat out of favor among certain types of businesses because such discounts can devalue a company’s products or services. In today’s modern, digital world, however, in which dozens or even hundreds of companies offering the same or similar merchandise are listed online — one atop another — the discount can be a significant driver of revenue generation, even with the expense associated with a reduction in price.
Offer New Products And Services
The third way many businesses have come to evolve and survive the digital revolution is to offer new products and services. These shifts in offerings can generate remarkable revenue-generating opportunities for many businesses. In fact, it is difficult to think of a retailer that has maintained the same product line for even a decade, and those that did (recall brick-and-mortar video rental stores) may not have survived. Although this approach is similar to the adaptability that I have already discussed, it is different in the sense that you’re not merely modifying your business’s presentation or advertising campaign. Rather, you are adding to, or otherwise altering, your product line or services in order to accommodate the current commercial environment.
Make Your Business Feel Real And Human
A fourth (but no less significant) approach to navigating this digitally changing world is becoming “real” and human. In isolated online environments, people may feel alienated and disconnected from genuine human interaction. By offering face-to-face (albeit virtual) communications or at the very least, personable telephone communications, a company can provide its customers and employees with a sense of warmth, genuineness and grace that people need. That is often lost on so many unresponsive, robot-like digital platforms. This human touch may involve merely asking a client about his or her children or pets and taking a few minutes to chat without promoting or selling. These personal interactions can go a long way toward helping a person feel like an individual rather than simply a consumer or employee.
Although change is often unpleasant and perplexing, it is not nearly as unpleasant as obsolescence or failure. Large and small businesses and organizations alike must learn to evolve in this rapidly changing digital world; sadly, those who remain unwilling or resistant to change are walking an ominous tightrope. Fortunately, reasonable modifications — such as making the most of online opportunities, remaining adaptive and flexible, modifying product lines and services, and treating both customers and employees with grace and compassion — are neither difficult nor overly expensive to implement. The key is to remain attentive and willing to change.
Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives. Do I qualify?