I’m a bit tired of reading about what 2021 will bring, and let’s be honest if anyone was to read their predictions of 2020 they may feel somewhat silly. So instead, let’s take a look at what I don’t think will happen in 2021.
A return to pre-covid (a new term introduced in 2020 by the way) behaviour for either consumer or merchant.
The way we live, and work has changed, but so has the way we research and consider our purchases. The shift in our behaviour was of course forced upon everyone during lockdown (remember that…) but I think that this only sped up the inevitable. If 2020 showed us anything it was that Guernsey is a special place and change does not happen quickly here, but a shift in how we consume was coming even before the world shut itself down. We can use search as a source to understand how behaviours and trends are shifting over time. Since 2010 searches in Google for local take-aways and food deliveries in Guernsey has risen steadily, yes there was a peak in queries in March and April last year but it is obvious that the Guernsey population was ready for this service even before our local restaurants were forced into providing it. This trend is mimicked by those looking for online shopping and local searches for local businesses.
The businesses that will profit most from a shift in behaviours are not those that offer a better online service during a period where they have no choice, but those that recognise it is a permanent change and one worth investing in.
Dismissal of online marketing channels as unnecessary or complicated
At the risk of undermining my own profession and my peers… the use of digital channels is an option for all businesses/sole traders and charities alike. Of course, there are varying levels of complication and sophistication, but in its basic form I genuinely believe that most people can benefit from increasing their online presence by taking some basic steps. The last 12 months have forced even the most traditional businesses to explore new ways to communicate with their existing customers, as well as ways to find new ones. When I first moved back to the Island in 2015, I was amazed by the limited number of local business taking advantage of online channels. As you can imagine, as a digital marketer, it concerned me slightly. But the mindset has changed and I hope that those who have sampled what digital media can achieve for their business will not look back.
Prioritising profit over sustainability
“Anything can happen, and it usually does” profound right? Not really, it’s actually an Amy Winehouse lyric and I’m not even a fan. However, the point is valid and one worth considering. 2020 was crazy/mad/horrible/stupid. But more than that, it proved we have no idea what the next day has in store for us. Complacency is a dangerous trait in life and in businesses, and sadly one we all are guilty of at times. Service and quality (and luck) are the only things that will ensure the longevity of your business. It doesn’t matter how established you may think you are, when a global pandemic hits (and apparently, they do) you are in big trouble. So, I have learnt one thing: never ever take your customers for granted and never assume the next project is around the corner. Ensure you are improving and that you are in a position to ride out any storm, even a covid-shaped one.
And finally, I’m confident 2021 won’t bring a better way to describe the global predicament
There is no better way of explaining the situation than “unprecedented”, and no better way of describing the times than “difficult”.
Whatever 2021 brings, I am hopeful that lessons learnt in 2020 will stay with me and the rest of the business community. It may prove to be another difficult year, and with so much unknown it is important for us to reflect on how lucky we are to live with such freedom and health.
2021, bring it on!
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