Faizan m. Syed
Faizan m. Syed 17 February 2022

Reflection on Digital 2021

What have we learned from business leaders, brands, and industries about marketing, customer experience, and digital transformation? In many aspects, the year 2021 seemed like a continuation of the year 2020. The pandemic continued to ravage economies, the workplace didn't return to normal, customers continued to demand more from brands and digital transformation became the only way forward in many industries.

There are many things to reflect on in 2021. We have learned valuable and lasting lessons from business leaders, marketers, customers, and brands. Here are a few important things to reflect on in 2021.

Emphasis on Adopting a Learning Mindset

The past two turbulent years have made it clear to business leaders, brands, and marketers that the only way forward is to adopt a learning and resilient mindset. The Great Resignation, the rise of remote work, to mention a few, has taught us that we must be willing to adapt to changes as fast as possible.

Amid the year of chaos, leaders were tested on their ability to manage and maintain organizational culture, mitigate employee stress, and champion business transformation.

Digitization and Digital Transformation is Not the Same Thing

The pandemic has forced brands to go digital or risk being left behind. However, there is a clear distinction between digitization and digital transformation and those who did the latter are winning big time.

In the post-Covid world, leaders must re-imagine not just how companies work, but also what they do to create value in the digital era. Instead of just digitizing what their companies already do, leaders must reimagine their company’s future in a digital world.

A good example is Philips, which pre-Covid had looked at the future and decided to transform from a multi-industry, manufacturing-centric conglomerate to a company focused on health technology services and solutions.

In Marketing, Customer Relationships is Everything

During the pandemic businesses especially in B2B who did not cultivate deep customer relationships were forced to learn a hard lesson as they watched their sales plummet.

To build lasting relationships with customers, brands must communicate in a timely manner. The sooner you can respond to your customer the happier they will be and that can go a long way.

Agility is the New Marketing Approach

Agile marketing provides the speed and accuracy needed for today's complex environments. Marketers who weave agility into their strategy can create stronger campaigns. To achieve this, marketers must continuously study and listen to consumers; their preferences, expectations, and behavior and optimize strategies accordingly.

Headline Stunts Don’t Make Sustainable Growth

A good example here is Microsoft. In the era of high drama in BigTech, Microsoft is quietly climbing to the top while staying away from headlines, antitrust suits, and the edge of space.

The company has quietly carved out a niche in cloud services, software, and hardware. In June 2021, Microsoft became the second American publicly traded company in history to reach a market cap of more than $2 trillion.

That's the benefit of brand maturity. What Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook, regularly undergo today is something Microsoft has been through. Headline stunts don't make sustainable growth, focus on making a product that lives up to your mission statement.

Focus on Building a Community

An important lesson to take from 2021 is that people buy from those they trust and trust comes from community. We are at a stage in marketing where people do not take what a company says about itself and its products for a word, they listen to what netizens and online communities say about a particular brand or product.

It is therefore important for brands to focus on building a thriving and loyal community online. The best way to do this is to tap into the booming creator economy by collaborating with creators who have an already established community.

In all that we have learned in 2021, one lesson of all stands out. That there is no going back to what we use to know as normal. If you look closely, the normal we had wasn't working anyway. There is one question for every business leader, brand, and marketer to focus on right now; what will a post-pandemic world look like?

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