Happy New Year and welcome to 2021!

Saying, “happy new year,” takes on a lot of new meaning for us this year in particular. As we begin the second year of the decade each of us has a different outlook given the outcome of its predecessor.

Looking back, when I wrote my article for January 2017, I referenced research that stated in 2020 “consumers will manage 85 percent of business relationships online without interacting with a human.” That statement seems almost prophetic as we think about the changes in how people did business last year. Terms like takeout, curbside, and touchless have taken on new meaning and prominence.

Each of us were forced to change the way we interact with consumers and each other in ways unimaginable before the pandemic. Some businesses thrived and others faltered. More than ever, your relationships with consumers were invaluable. We’ve been forced to reevaluate how we do business.

How we interact with consumers has changed, but one thing remains. The relationship we have with them has become even more important. We must meet them where they are and their level of comfort. Acknowledging that in order to thrive we must be willing to adapt to those needs.

If you tried offering curbside service last year, maybe this year try adding online ordering. I remember when smartphones were really taking hold the saying, “there’s an app for that.” Does your business have an app? More than ever, businesses can no longer rely on social media as their sole means of reaching
consumers. The battle between social platform dominance will continue to be waged and each generation has their own favorite. If you want to reach the widest audience, first and foremost embrace a website. With search engine optimization, you’ll reach the widest possible audience for your business.

As for social media, don’t use just one platform. You need to embrace as many of them as you can effectively manage. In doing so, it’s also important to realize each has its own market strengths. Think about what demographic you want to reach and then ask your customers in it what platform is their favorite. If you need help figuring out a new platform, don’t be afraid of asking your kids, the neighbor kids, nieces & nephews, or maybe even grandkids for help!

Messaging also continues to be invaluable. Not only what we say and do is being used by consumers in their choices. Outward appearance and behaviors within our businesses became and continues to be a litmus test. Failure to acknowledge that has and will continue to allow businesses to set themselves apart.

Change is and will always be constant. We never know what’s next. If there’s one lesson to take into this year, it’s the importance of accepting and adapting to it. Don’t be afraid to try new ways of interacting with consumers. In fact, seek them out!