As a fundamental rule the best way to make your business future proof is to constantly talk with your customers. Constant communication allows you to make adjustments to products, services, pricing, marketing, sales and distribution as needed and at the right time.
But what happens in 2020 when your business no longer has the ability to talk with your customers. It may sound like nonsense to those who think “it won’t happen to me” … but in reality it is already happening now.
Let me break it down with some numbers on active monthly users of popular social media platforms.
- 1.71 billion people are active on Facebook
- 1 billion people are active on WhatsApp
- 1 billion people are active on Messenger
- 806 million people are active on WeChat
- 500 million people are active on Instagram
- 313 million people are active on Twitter
- 200 million people are active on Snapchat
- 100 million people are active on Pinterest
People (which means your future customers) are adopting new mobile social media platforms at double digit growth rates each year. Their attention and interactions are inside their mobile devices. Most, if not all of the social media platforms, have an internal shopping option already or are planning to build one in the near future.
So the question is “are you using, learning, and connecting with your customers on these social media platforms today?”
Many businesses are advertising on social media and that’s a good start. But even those who are advertising are not really connecting with customers … they are simply pushing promotions at them. They are using social media like they’ve always used every other sales tactic from direct mail to newspaper ads. Social media is such a different environment that simply using your old playbook will not work in the future.
You have to think about how your entire business will be structured when commerce and marketing are integrated into every social media platform. Several sales channels will cease to exist, distribution channels will shift outside of your control and marketing content will be organically created by users — not by a highly controlled and sanitized marketing department.
Think about this — how many trade shows, trade magazines or industry conferences did you attend in the past year? Now how many times did you post something on Facebook? If you spent time, energy and cash on the events/conferences and very little on Facebook then you are losing customers. Your customers are no different than you are when it comes to what gets their attention so why would they act differently when it comes to engaging with your products or services.
Many business will hold out on making changes to their status quo methods until they see a clear effect with one of their KPIs. For example they may see that business growth continually slowed in 2017, 2018 and 2019. They may benchmark their numbers against industry averages and see that the same is happening with several other companies — so it’s not something to worry about. They may reduce R&D spending to make up for a loss of profit margins. They may blame sales & marketing or their agency for not coming up with a “viral video” or great new advertisement featuring some celebrity. The reality will be that the business just hit a brick wall.
It’s not about fixing your marketing department for social media. It’s about re-structuring the entire business so you can develop the right products for customers based on what they want, how they want it and where they want to get it from.
If you want to future proof your business, make adjustments now on how you engage with customers and shift to where their attention is going. Start building the ramp today that allows your business to jump over the brick wall in 2020 that many of your competitors will run head first into.