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  • Helen Pritchett

The New Normal; this time it’s serious

After two years affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, green shoots of new growth, consistency and normality are pushing forth this spring. Globally, organisations are gearing up for the pandemic to become recognised as an endemic virus, one which we must accept, and live with. To do anything else would be counterproductive. We have spent 2 years either trying to fight or shying away from confronting the virus and it is time to live with it and, dare we say, embrace it for what it is, how it has changed us and what its impact will be moving forwards.

From conversations we have with clients, it is now time to focus on the new normal. To kick off 2022 in an explosive fashion – going hard out of the blocks with aspirational objectives to win business, gain market share and improve pipeline. Now is not a time to hold back and be cautious. The time for ‘what ifs’ is over. Whatever ‘new normal’ means for you and your organisation it is time to embrace it and capitalise on all opportunities.

How can we define the post-pandemic new normal?

What should our focus be and how will it impact organisational strategies and corporate objectives? What is clear is that the focus will look different for every company/organisation. There will be no one size fits all solution for how to be a success in a COVID endemic world. Those that succeed will be reflecting, taking stock and planning for the future. They will rise to the challenge of what will undoubtedly be an ever-changing future environment.

Flexibility and adaptability will be key factors in future successes and failures. Organisations will need to be light on their feet and open to change to thrive.

With regards to how customers interact with suppliers, after initial panic, the void caused by social restrictions was being filled with premium brand experiences. Enduring consumer habits are yet to become clear, but for now, there is still uncertainty and inequality: unemployment and inflation among people’s top priorities. If we are about to go through a period of restricted purchasing power, brands may need to adjust and consider that consumer behaviour changes during a crisis, with some of those changes only later becoming permanent.

These are also obvious signs that email has developed into much more than a sales channel and has evolved to become the preferred choice to send essential messages for many brands. Whilst we could not meet face-to-face, digital marketing took a strong foothold and this is unlikely to revert to a pre-pandemic status.

Given the importance of a multi-channel approach and email’s potential to have a positive impact on other channels, marketing departments should not underestimate the effectiveness of digital marketing and a consumer-focused, data-driven approach to consumer relations.

The future is bright, the future is digital

According to McKinsey, organizations increasingly recognize that modern leadership means knowing how to make the most of digitization and technology, diverse talent, and the opinions of a range of stakeholders. McKinsey recently published articles exploring how companies can take advantage of advanced-intelligence technology and become truly data driven – a pre-requisite McKinsey believes, for success.

What we now know is that the modern buyer is autonomous, independent, and digitally driven. Vistage research shows 78% of CEOs report dramatic shifts in buyer behaviour as the result of COVID-19, led by four main factors:

1. Shift to digital buying: Buyers are taking their shopping online and conducting far more research on their own, prior to purchase.

2. Virtual selling replacing in-person: Virtual selling is increasingly replacing traditional face-to-face interactions; customers may be more interested in setting up a video meeting than meeting in-person.

3. Slower sales cycle: After initial periods of panic-buying subsided, customers are more cautious and measured, and less likely to take risks, creating a slower sales cycle.

4. COVID-19 market dynamics: Everything from a lack of trade shows to supply chain issues and inflation have greatly impacted the buying experience.

All this points to the fact that digital marketing is the future. C-suite execs and marketers must make a mindset shift to digital. Traditional strategies must be reassessed to re-invent and re-imagine the customers' digital experience, thus realigning sales and marketing teams to create a world in which digital buyers can thrive. Modern customers want to be empowered to self-inform, self-educate, and self-purchase. Organisations which successfully adopt new digital marketing strategies and approaches to embrace such changing desires, and realign sales and marketing strategies accordingly, will develop positive consumer relationships and brand loyalty and will be primed for success in the years to come.

Two years ago, we acted in panic mode, we did not have time to plan hybrid working and that new normal. Post-pandemic we can take time to prepare, strategize and plan our response and our focus. It is clear and imperative that, taken now, the right approach will pay dividends. With Spring in our sights, we must build on pandemic experiences to enter the post-pandemic world with renewed vigour and positivity. Now is no time to hold back, it is time to look to the future, plan campaigns, devise new products and embrace what is to come.

For a deeper dive into general ‘lessons from COVID’, you might find this article on 10 COVID-19 lessons that will change the post-pandemic future interesting.

For a deeper dive into general ‘lessons from COVID’, you might find this article on 10 COVID-19 lessons that will change the post-pandemic future interesting.


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