Five ways your business can remain relevant in testing times

Time Out MD Elise Bucholtz shares five tips to help small businesses future proof their businesses

At Time Out we are here for our readers, our clients and our peers. What we have learnt through this ‘IN’ and ‘OUT’ world is that nothing is permanent, and it is how we handle the changes and move with the needs of the times that set us apart. 

I am often asked what I have learnt from this wild ride and how I think businesses can remain relevant. Here are five key learnings I hope might help others work smarter to ensure they come out stronger on the other side of 2021.

1. Connect with your customers

This is so important, and something I talk about all the time. Loyalty goes a long way and more often than not it happens from kindness and conversation. Think about your audience, engage with them, incentivise them and seek out super-users who can act as unofficial ambassadors for you. For instance, there are certain restaurants/shops I love that I will recommend time and time again, based on consistent positive experiences. Remember you can also make an impact with a small, but mighty group.

2. Identify your audience’s new needs or desires (start by just asking!)

It is important to remember your ‘why’, but then put that into practice around how you can deliver in a new way. For instance, we noticed our readers were craving news on constantly changing lockdown regulations, so we became a newsroom. If customers are no longer as interested in certain products, what else can you offer?

Service is very important: how can you connect with customers to give them what feels like a personal experience? Look at what they are engaging with, survey them, and ask them what they need or how they are feeling. You will be surprised by how willing people are to share information if it is about helping make a service, product or idea better.

3. Innovate your product offering

Think about your product: what do you do well, and what you do not so well. Now is the time for experimentation within your means. Audiences are receptive to change right now, so don’t hold back. Also, think of upsells in your buying cycle. What can you add, what little touches can you develop to leave your clients wanting more?

4. Think about what channels work best for you

You don’t need to be everywhere, but you do need to know where it works. For instance, IG is useful for aspirational relevance, Facebook is useful for action/purchase. Think about what you do and how you engage with brands and strike a balance between. Test your content; look at your output and design plans that suit your outcomes. Sometimes, better outcomes are as simple as using a different image.

5. Bring your team along on the journey

This is important, and one we take seriously at Time Out. Share your personal journey with your teams. Share information you have read that may help, run ideation sessions – you would be surprised who may have a cracking idea worth trialling – and also, allow your team the opportunity to support you in ways that they have not before. 

Businesses are not about the ‘I’ but the ‘WE’. What we can do together far exceeds what we can do singularly for ourselves, our brands and our customers. 

I recently shared these tips and more in the recent Business Not as Usual Conversation series, head here to watch the full episode.

If you are eager to learn about how to connect with customers, email me: elise.bucholtz@timeout.com

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