Dwight D. Eisenhower once very appropriately said, "Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him."
The train of the future is rapidly approaching, it will run over those unaware or ambivalent to the landscape around them. What will that landscape start to look like in 2023 and even beyond? More importantly, what must we do now to avoid being run over by the locomotive called the future?
Strengthening your community and business brand is a must. The digital media landscape is a revolving door of endless content vying for consumer attention. You have social feeds allowing you to scroll forever, countless TV channels from which to choose, plus content and brands are everywhere. Capturing the attention of the consumer is much more difficult than just a couple of years ago; only the strong will survive. Attention is the most critical element in advertising, marketing, or branding campaigns. It is the key driver of memorability, favorability and ultimately, the purchase.
Convey your brand story in a compelling and emotional way. In the future, those that can build an emotional attachment with consumers will win. Tell your story in such a way as to connect. Simply throwing your community or business name out there won't be enough, you must connect in ways that build bonds and strong attachments.
Be unique, provide OUTSTANDING customer service. In the Nation's Restaurant News, we read that most self-order kiosks at restaurants will be replaced by mobile ordering apps in the coming years. Many consumers hate digital kiosks. With the price of fast food nearly that of a sit-down restaurant, restaurants offering unique experiences along with over-the-top customer service, will be able to better compete. This same concept holds true of all businesses and even communities. Unique and customer friendly businesses and communities will have a huge advantage over national chains and mundane experiences.
Be creative and look forward. There will be more room for activities. Society is changing, it is less about drinking. The post-pandemic social changes mean nights out might be more about enjoyable group activities. We already have mini golf, ping pong, darts, axes, and indoor (and outdoor) soccer if you're feeling sporty. In the future, start thinking additional options such as painting, board games such as checker/chess tournaments, ceramics, pickleball, or video games.
The digital financial revolution will escalate – While the crypto universe is in a short-term funk, regardless of what we want to think, don't be lured into thinking this concept is going away. Much like the early Internet, the blockchain, crypto, and other similar inventions are simply going through the normal and expected growing pains that accompany new technology. In the coming years, sooner rather than later, nearly everything you do will have components and connections to digital currency, the blockchain and so forth. Start learning, preparing, and understanding this technology or your business and community will be left behind.
I like what Jeff Bezos said a couple of years ago as it pertains to the future, "What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you - what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind - you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn't a strategy."
We all must take a greater interest in our future, after all we will be spending the rest of our lives there. Let us work extra hard in 2023 to shape that future to the liking of our business or community and not get left behind in the whirlwind of change that is knocking on the door.
Editor's note: John Newby is a nationally recognized columnist, speaker and publisher. He consults with communities, businesses, and media. His "Building Main Street, not Wall Street" column is enjoyed by more than communities around the country. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists community and business leaders in building synergies that create vibrant communities. He can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.