More reach and customers through digital platforms

Crisis. We already had that in 2001, and in 2008. What challenges from back then are the same today - and what opportunities are there for customers and reach today?

Many of us are too young for the oil crisis of the 70s, but I lived through the DotCom bubble and the economic crisis of 2008. Looking back today at the events of that time, we now have some tools and opportunities for generating reach and new customer business that we would have given anything for back then.

Reach costs money, crises are mainly a matter of the head? While restraint is being felt, as it was most recently in 2020, and a certain part of the economy is suffering, another part is flourishing and booming. Crisis means change in accustomed functioning structures – no one can live or work without these structures, and that’s why we are initially bothered when they change. At the same time, some companies, people and industries seem to somehow always stay “on top of things” and simply react faster – how do they do that?

2022: Countering the crisis with flexible logistics

Everything is always available online.

Our current situation basically allows us a lot of flexibility that we didn’t know in the early 2000s and around 2008. It was never as easy to do everything from anywhere as it was in the post-Covid era. Having an office, being on-site with customers, having permanent employees, and having inventory were just normal. Today, more and more of these liabilities can simply be “outsmarted.”

  • Office? Smartphone, laptop, Internet are everywhere and the cost of a SIM card with sufficient volume is no longer a showstopper.
  • Performing on site? Until 2020, presence was actually considered a virtue; today, the flexibility and efficiency of no longer having to travel or – actually new – no longer having to offer external employees or service providers a seat, which saves costs.
  • Permanent employees? More and more services are provided on-demand by freelancers in high quality. Whether it’s a workshop, graphic design, media – I click together the services I need and can calculate firmly.
  • Warehousing and logistics? Since Amazon Fulfillment, Shopify and co. dreams become reality for retailers. Even native storefront industries are discovering the benefits of a hybrid approach.

All that is well and good – but without a plan, new frameworks and tools are of only limited help. So how should you get started?

Step 1: Create new reach, engage more customers

Wenn es eine Traum-App gegeben hätte, die ich mir als junger Unternehmer in den 2000er Jahren gewünscht hätte, so wäre das heute Instagram. Wir mögen alle verschiedene Meinungen über Plattformen dieser Art haben, ihr Nutzen ist unbestritten: Die Möglichkeit, die Interessen von potenziellen Kunden an Orten, zu Themen und Trends punktuell und live zu analysieren, direkte Ansprachen zu generieren und Angebote zu platzieren, klingt noch heute wie “aus der Zukunft”. Top-Marketer nennen es bspw. die “1.80$ Strategy” – verstehe, was in der Welt da draussen passiert, starte die Interaktion und platziere Dich und Dein Business.

Nicht nur Instagram bietet sich hierfür an. Fast jeder YouTuber ruft in seinen Videos sogar dazu auf, ihm Input zu geben. Auto-YouTuber fragen nach Tips, um an Teile zu kommen. Fitness-YouTuber wollen wissen, mit welchem Training die Follower erfolgreich sind. Gerade für alle, die vor den 2000er Jahren geboren sind, fühlt es sich neu und komisch an, doch die Realität ist: Reichweite bedeutet, genau hier jeden Tag aktiv zu sein und sichtbar zu werden. Noch können es sich viele Unternehmen leisten, keinerlei Attention auf führenden Plattformen zu besitzen. Doch bald wird die Frage sein, wen ein User zu seinem Suchbegriff dort findet – die klassische Suchmaschine hat ausgedient, Social Search ist der Ort, wo Menschen suchen und finden.

Step 2: Create content yourself, become a media company

Admittedly: Many of these media-strong platforms scare people who have not grown up with them natively. Established companies suddenly have young people around them who use media as a matter of course and take their cameras with them everywhere they go. Of course, if you have a high marketing budget and find the right creators, you’ve won. Or do you?

Fortunately, many established players on media-driven platforms have also only boiled with water, or even today are still running lean. It all starts with understanding that you have to have a media company in your business today. In keeping with the spirit of the times, however, this can look quite different than one might initially think. On platforms like Fiverr, tried-and-true and proven efficient freelancers offer just about anything: Animations, video editing, music, the jingle for your own podcast, logo design – or building your own YouTube channel. There’s hardly a service you can’t find there: How about a savvy expert to set up your Microsoft 365 environment so you can finally use Teams? Your website needs a makeover, too? Have no idea how to set up your Discord or organize Slack? Maybe you just want a fancy infographic to show on your existing blog? For a small amount of money, precisely defined service packages and virtually any topic, you can find helpers today who can provide you with solutions that previously seemed out of reach.

Step 3: Enter into exchange, live openness

Podcast, podcast, podcast. Or a workshop after all?

Hardly any format has already manifested itself before 2020 like the podcast. Easy to consume, on the bike, while shopping, or while cooking – today, experts and ordinary people exchange ideas on almost any topic, find listeners, and generate attention. Thanks to cloud services like Zencastr or Studiolink, you don’t even have to meet. Intro. Composer via Fiverr. Graphics? Freelance graphic designer. Announcer? Same game. Hundreds, if not thousands, of podcasters have never left their desks, used a graphics program or met anyone in person – they just started. And once 20 episodes have been published in which people have discussed current topics in the press, top discussions from other podcasts, or technical issues with people they know, it’s a good idea to invite interesting people and opinions. They want more reach, too, and mutual networking always helps.

But it doesn’t always have to be a podcast. Many companies have taken workshops to completely new levels in the wake of the New Normal, shifting from days of attendance with whiteboards, flipcharts, and travel hurdles written all over them to completely virtual. Collaboration through whiteboards like Conceptboard is admittedly more exhausting at first, but in the end, many times more efficient. Everyone can prepare their input at the time when the daily routines such as child to school, sports and meetings are over, and thus participate in a workshop with a greatly reduced time frame. In this appointment there is finally time for what is most fun: exchange and collaboration, focused and condensed into a few hours. You simply leave the follow-up, documentation and securing of results to a freelancer again!

Reach and new customers – does that really work?

Especially in the first few months of the second quarter of 2020, I wasn’t so sure about that either. But now that everything has “opened up” again and you could theoretically meet in person again, many of the points described continue to hold. “Keeping it good” actually seems to work here: After all, high fuel prices, many terminated offices and the mindset of preemptively reducing expenses against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine have shaped everyday life.

Now, anyone who manages to combine efficiently and break new ground has an advantage and can ditch the car, cancel the coworking space and, against the backdrop of shifting industries, place their own services in new areas. Because despite all the recession, inflation and ailing companies, the economy is flourishing as never before in many areas: Finance (Crypto, NFTs, Trading), Sustainability (Environment, Consumables, Health) and Logistics (Fulfillment, Shopping, Payment) are the areas you should have on your radar.

Philipp Schneidenbach ist Experte für Governance, Risk und Compliance, Enterprise Architecture und IT Service Management. In seiner Rolle als Principal bei einer Münchner Unternehmensberatung trägt er auch die Verantwortung für Legal und Compliance sowie Digitale Transformation. Philipp teilt seine Insights als Sprecher auf internationalen Events und hier bei MoreThanDigital.

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