My business looks completely different from the one I ran at the start of 2020. Not necessarily good or bad, but different.

For starters, if you’d told me 18 months ago that 70 per cent of our business would come from overseas – and from markets including Canada and the US – I’d have laughed. ‘What could those markets possibly need with me?’ I’d have asked. But here we are, in the middle of 2021, and that’s our reality: a delightful melting pot of projects in time zones totally out of synch with my own.

The truth is, nobody in business really cares where you are anymore. Among the many tough lessons that the pandemic hurled our way, one positive was the digital revolution. Of course, this won’t be the same for all businesses but, in our field, I genuinely don’t think that location matters anymore.

The future of marketing

While it’s exciting to think about all the opportunity out there, this new, fast pace does beg the question: what next?

For marketing – including content creation, PR and social media – the world has never been busier. It doesn’t feel long ago that a few hundred euro spent on Facebook would get you all the attention you wanted. Today? You’ll be lucky to grab a few minutes of anyone’s time, whatever your budget.

So, what marketing will stand out in 2022 and beyond, and how can you get a head start on planning?

Well, content will still be king – but it’s going to need to be interactive. Think questionnaires, quizzes, and games. If you want people to interact with your content, you’re going to have to give them something worth engaging with.

Beyond that, I think we’ll start to shut down from the big, wide world and lean into our community more than ever. Already I make many of my consumer decisions based on what my chosen clan thinks – such as asking my online business community about which apps to film videos on, and my WhatsApp groups where to book for dinner.

My advice is to lean into that, and to double down on creating your brand’s community – perhaps in a Facebook group or Slack channel or even (unbelievably) in the real world. The more value you offer that community, the more likely its members are to stay loyal to you as the world gets noisier.

The future of the workforce

We have been teaching ourselves to be specialists, not generalists. We might wear a different hat from one day to the next according to what’s needed: but we have trusted the experts when we needed to and known that most things could be considered ‘someone else’s job’.

But as technology has evolved, so too must our work – and our workforce. As team leaders, executives and entrepreneurs, we need to get comfortable with the idea of more fluidity in the way we work.

The future is about being able to fill a variety of roles as needed – all while remaining true to our own individual strengths and brands. We are no longer just writers or readers; now we’re producers, curators, creators. And this is the same for your workforce: they can no longer play just one role, but have to get comfortable stepping into the unknown and bringing new skills into their toolkit.

After all, AI is hot on our heels. Would you believe me if I said some of this article was written by a robot? Because it was. As someone who runs a copywriting agency, I have a choice: dig my heels in and pretend not to notice the robot workforce knocking on my door or find ways to embrace it while levelling-up my team and my business for the work we will still be needed to do in the future. Yes, a lot of jobs will go to the robots, but others still will be created – and that’s very exciting.

The future of customer experience

Of course, what good is a future-focused workforce and marketing plan, without a nod towards the customer experience of tomorrow too?

A bit like with marketing, customers are being pulled in hundreds of different directions every minute – and there’s always going to be a more exciting, more cutting-edge or more luxurious offering for your client to choose.

But I believe this is where humanisation comes in. While AI is going to be able to handle lots of your processes in the future – from chat bots that take complaints to automation that makes light work of your sales – genuine human-to-human contact will be hard to beat. In fact, we may well crave it.

That’s why now is the time to invest in upskilling your team, so they understand the full value of how to engage your customers, by being able to hold great conversations and develop valuable relationships beyond the obvious. In the same way that you need technology to really embrace the potential the future has to offer (like global business that doesn’t care whether you’re in Malta or the Maldives), you need really great people skills to provide the kind of experience that cuts through digital barriers to make a human impact.

Find a way to balance all three, and future-proofed success will be inevitable!

To find out more about how communications and customer should be interlinked as you future proof your business, visit byfinessegroup.com

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