What Does The Future Pose For Midsized Companies Post-Pandemic?

The COVID pandemic has caused huge disruption around the world, with quarantine measures and lockdowns in place and thousands of businesses forced to close. This has resulted in shifts in almost every market and industry, as people adjust to working remotely, prioritizing online aspects of business, and reacting to changes in demand.

Many mid-sized companies have had to put growth plans on hold or pivot their operations and work hard to stay afloat over the last year. For example, with travel and vacations disrupted the Red Roof hotel chain offered their rooms to remote workers to hire as a workspace on a daily basis.

With vaccines being rolled out and things starting to open up again, we take a look at what the future holds for mid-sized companies post-pandemic.

Post-pandemic Changes For Mid-Sized Companies

While at last there seems to be some hope of an end to the pandemic in the near future, many of the changes we’ve seen as a result won’t be undone; it’s unlikely that everything will go back to how it was before COVID.

Being forced to move most of our everyday lives online has highlighted some ways in which professional and personal lives could be streamlined and improved. Many in-person meetings and appointments can be conducted just as well in a virtual setting and are often quicker. Many workers won’t return to the office full time, and virtual alternatives to shopping, banking, events, and even medical consultations are going to become normal parts of life.

The pandemic has also created a lot of financial problems for people, with many being more careful about what they spend and where. Expectations from consumers and other businesses are also increasingly high. Company websites need to be well designed and easy to navigate, providing a seamless online experience. They need to offer quick delivery times and excellent customer service across multiple platforms.

With plenty of alternatives just a few clicks away, businesses that haven’t stayed on top of things are suffering.

Strong Branding is Essential For Growth

Branding is always an important part of building a successful company. But with so much upheaval and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for mid-sized companies to focus on strong branding. Why? Well, it’s one of the best ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace, increase awareness, and create a strong connection with your target audience.

To recover post-pandemic and get growth plans back on track, you need a brand that emotionally connects with your customers, clearly communicates your values and purpose, establishing long-term relationships, and sending a consistent message.

To do this you need an in-depth understanding of your target audience and what they value and engage with. Plus, your branding needs to be cohesive across every platform and channel so that it’s instantly recognizable.

Mini Case Study: Apple

One of the best examples of strong branding is Apple. The tech giant focuses on the innovative and creative qualities of its products and the customers it’s targeting. It targets emotions and promotes its values and the ideals of the products that its customers aspire to. This is reflected in every aspect of the business from the marketing and to the product itself and even the packaging.

Strong branding allows Apple to stand out in a crowded market and grow as a business — even though their products are often more expensive than their competitors.

Higher Expectations of Brands Some businesses failed to make the right decisions quickly when the pandemic started. They didn’t react quickly enough or communicate well enough and it damaged their reputation and/or growth.

For example, car hire company Hertz was impacted by the shutdown of the travel industry and a huge drop in demand for used cars, which was key in keeping the business afloat. Having invested money in upgrading the business and struggling with long-term threats such as ride-share apps, Hertz was too slow to react to the change in demand and filed for bankruptcy. While the company is now on track to leave bankruptcy, they have a long road ahead to rebuild their brand and profit.

During the pandemic, the businesses that handled things well were noticeable — adapting to drastic changes while still providing a great service to their customers, and looking after their staff. These businesses visibly demonstrated that they value people over profits.

One example of this is BrewDog, which reacted to the pandemic by using their factory to produce hand sanitizer for hospitals. This response demonstrated that they were thinking beyond how to make money, and promoted and strengthened their brand.

Post-COVID consumers are going to have higher expectations of brands, with more interest in values and ethics. There’s more awareness of good and bad business practices, and consumers have enough choice that it’s not always going to come down to the best price.

This means that mid-sized companies looking to recover and grow need to take a look at their brand values and their business priorities.

While it’s tempting to focus on driving sales, look at social responsibility and ways in which your brand can promote equality, sustainability, and other issues that are important to you and your target audience. This will build a stronger relationship with customers and potential customers — and steer them away from the competition.

It’s all very easy for businesses to review their values and set new goals that align with the causes their customers care about. But you need to do more than just talk, your business needs to be taking action.

Higher Expectations of Brands

Some businesses failed to make the right decisions quickly when the pandemic started. They didn’t react quickly enough or communicate well enough and it damaged their reputation and/or growth.

For example, car hire company Hertz was impacted by the shutdown of the travel industry and a huge drop in demand for used cars, which was key in keeping the business afloat. Having invested money in upgrading the business and struggling with long-term threats such as ride-share apps, Hertz was too slow to react to the change in demand and filed for bankruptcy. While the company is now on track to leave bankruptcy, they have a long road ahead to rebuild their brand and profit.

During the pandemic, the businesses that handled things well were noticeable — adapting to drastic changes while still providing a great service to their customers, and looking after their staff. These businesses visibly demonstrated that they value people over profits.

One example of this is BrewDog, which reacted to the pandemic by using their factory to produce hand sanitizer for hospitals. This response demonstrated that they were thinking beyond how to make money, and promoted and strengthened their brand.

Post-COVID consumers are going to have higher expectations of brands, with more interest in values and ethics. There’s more awareness of good and bad business practices, and consumers have enough choice that it’s not always going to come down to the best price.

This means that mid-sized companies looking to recover and grow need to take a look at their brand values and their business priorities.

While it’s tempting to focus on driving sales, look at social responsibility and ways in which your brand can promote equality, sustainability, and other issues that are important to you and your target audience. This will build a stronger relationship with customers and potential customers — and steer them away from the competition.

It’s all very easy for businesses to review their values and set new goals that align with the causes their customers care about. But you need to do more than just talk, your business needs to be taking action.

Mini Case Study: Patagonia

One of the best examples of this is the clothing brand, Patagonia. They focus on sustainability within the business and their products, but also raise awareness by running campaigns and initiatives to tackle environmental issues. This is something that their target audience is going to connect with and makes their brand stronger and more unique.

Make sure your brand values are clear and that they are reflected in all aspects of your business to connect with customers post-COVID. Set yourselves deadlines and targets that relate to your values, and share these with your customers. Talk about the steps you’re taking towards your goals. Being able to show action and progress is going to connect more with your target market and your customers and make your business stand out.

Focus on Customer Loyalty

Everyone is struggling post-COVID, but customers will connect more with the brands that are putting them first, rather than just boosting profits.

Customer loyalty is going to be essential post-pandemic. It’s important that your marketing and branding are focused on retaining the customers you already have, not just on attracting new customers.

An existing customer is 14x more likely to buy from you than a potential customer, so it’s important that you take time to connect and build relationships with customers.

Make this work by thinking about what their customers want and need, and improving the customer experience. Do this by:

  • Focusing on customer service — more contact options and quicker response times
  • Offering quicker delivery times and full tracking to keep customers up to date
  • Unique offers and discounts for loyal customers or a customer loyalty program
  • Content that’s specifically tailored to customers requirements

In addition, listen to customer feedback and act on it. If customers have a good experience and a strong connection with a brand, they will keep coming back and are less likely to look elsewhere.

They’ll also recommend your brand to other people: word-of-mouth marketing drives $6 trillion in annual global spending.

What Actions Do Mid-sized Companies Need to Take?

To recover and grow post-pandemic there are a few changes that mid-sized companies will need to make.

Conduct fresh market research

The pandemic has caused major changes to consumer habits, and it’s likely that whatever industry you’re in, there will have been significant shifts when it comes to your target market. It’s important to redo your market research so that you can understand how the pandemic has affected your customers and potential customers.

Look at how their priorities, habits, and interests have changed during the pandemic, and what they’re likely to be post-pandemic. Talk to your current customers to find out what’s important to them now and what they think they’ll prioritize and engage with in the future.

Assess your competitors as well to see how they’ve handled the pandemic, what changes they’ve made, and how you can improve what you’re doing to stand out from them.

Review your data

Look at the data you have to understand how people are interacting with your brand. These are a few key things to look at:

  • Sales data: What are people buying and how has that changed?
  • Visitors to your website: How do they find your website, who are they, and what do they do on your site?
  • Social media: What channels and posts get the most engagement? Which ones drive traffic to your website? Who’s talking about your brand?

It’s important to regularly review all the data you’re collecting so that you can monitor how well you’re doing and adapt or improve where necessary.

Revise your marketing strategy Your market research is likely to identify ways in which you need to change or update your marketing strategy. With more things moving online, you might need to look at better ways to reach and connect with your target audience.

Building up your online presence and driving traffic to your website is likely to be a priority: 74% have purchased a product online. You need to make sure that your target audience finds your company when they’re looking to buy.

One way to do this is to set up accounts on more social media platforms or focus on certain platforms to build up your following. Or you could try new forms of content to reach your audience.

Also, take a look at what your competitors and other companies your size are doing with their marketing. And keep up to date with the latest marketing and business trends and insights. Follow a marketing podcast like Marketing Speak for tips from marketing experts and business leaders for inspiration. Or, if you’re thinking of trying out new marketing channels like YouTube, the Wistia blog is full of useful articles on how to create engaging video content.

Revise your marketing strategy

Your market research is likely to identify ways in which you need to change or update your marketing strategy. With more things moving online, you might need to look at better ways to reach and connect with your target audience.

Building up your online presence and driving traffic to your website is likely to be a priority: 74% have purchased a product online. You need to make sure that your target audience finds your company when they’re looking to buy.

One way to do this is to set up accounts on more social media platforms or focus on certain platforms to build up your following. Or you could try new forms of content to reach your audience.

Also, take a look at what your competitors and other companies your size are doing with their marketing. And keep up to date with the latest marketing and business trends and insights. Follow a marketing podcast like Marketing Speak for tips from marketing experts and business leaders for inspiration. Or, if you’re thinking of trying out new marketing channels like YouTube, the Wistia blog is full of useful articles on how to create engaging video content.

Audit your brand

Perform a brand audit to make sure that your company reflects the changes of the last year, is still relevant and effectively connects with your audience. Review three key areas:

  • Internal branding: Your businesses goals, values, and mission, as well as the company culture
  • External branding: All of your branding assets such as logo, colors, graphics, and marketing materials. Review your website, your social media presence, blog content, and email marketing.
  • Customer experience: Review your branding across the sales process, post-sales follow-ups, and customer service.

You want to find out what’s currently working, what isn’t working, and how people are interacting with your brand. If you notice inconsistencies across different platforms, or it becomes obvious that your target audience isn’t connecting with your brand, you need to review your brand guidelines.

Final Thoughts

Some mid-sized companies have been hit hard by the pandemic but it is possible to bounce back. The key to success now is to understand how the pandemic has affected your industry, target audience, and target market. By taking the time to review your business and brand and adapt your strategies, you’ll be able to stay competitive, connect with customers, and grow your business.

Originally published at https://latana.com.

Latana. AI-powered brand tracking helping brands make better marketing decisions via world-class, scalable insights. https://latana.com/