Dennis Kirwan is currently the CEO of Dymic Digital, a Marketing Agency based in Los Angeles, CA.

Since joining the internet marketing sector back in the 2000s, I knew we were doing more than simply modernizing advertising. Rather, it was as clear to me then as it is now, we were helping reshape the very landscape of how businesses and consumers think, behave and interact with each other in a rapidly digitizing marketplace.

The transition from an offline to an online-centered paradigm progressed at a relatively fast but seemingly consistent pace over the last several decades. That is, until the disruption of 2020 essentially added rocket fuel to this shift and subsequently launched us into a new galaxy of change, whether we were ready or not.

We currently find ourselves in a world where even brand loyalty is crumbling, as is evident by the deaths of many legacy brands across the country. And it is quite obvious that the companies rising from the rubble are more than just embracing this change; they are striving to influence the “new normal.”   

With 2020 now in the rearview mirror, businesses must look at the road ahead and embrace all that lies before them. To continue the metaphor, organizations need to take the wheel and steer themselves toward digital relevance in this new reality. To succeed, companies have to accept adaptation as not only a means of survival but as a way to fundamentally better meet the needs and wants of a customer base that is more dynamic now than perhaps ever before in history. Despite all the change we have seen and will continue to see, some things remain the same: change shouldn’t be looked at with fear, but rather as an opportunity for growth. To thrive in the “new normal,” companies must take the time to self-reflect, take action and prepare for the next big disruption.  

Take a Look in the Mirror

Writer Margaret Wheatley said it best: “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” The spectacular collapse of some of America’s most iconic brands in recent times is a powerful reminder of what happens when institutions refuse to take a cold, hard look at themselves with an eye toward self-improvement.

To avoid this fate, companies must first self-reflect on how their customer base has changed, including asking difficult questions: How is consumer behavior different now from before? What is the customer’s journey like today, and how can you align your business with their new behaviors? Are prospective clients looking for your products/services through voice search? If that’s the case, are you findable through voice searches?

Organizations should use this period of self-reflection as a fact-finding mission to assimilate the new reality of your industry and its clientele. One great way to acquire this information is to use a survey company to ask your prospects how their shopping habits have changed. Surveys like these can yield significant and surprising insights into the minds of your clients. You can then utilize that data to evolve your business model. Once it’s developed and underway, you also can use this process to evaluate the efficacy of your new system. This approach should be viewed as both the first step toward proper market adaptation and as part of an endless practice to stay relevant to your customers.

Make Your Move

Once you’ve done some serious introspection and better understand the realities on the ground of your industry, it’s time to take action. Invariably, a good place to start is updating your website to ensure your online presence aligns with new buying behaviors.

Companies must recreate their site into a format that does more than simply display products or services, but actually solves their customers’ problems. Since websites have also become the new storefront for most businesses, you must ensure prospects can find it online, or you basically don’t exist. Moreover, it’s imperative your value proposition connects with potential buyers and inspires them to take action.

Prepare for the Future

Once you believe you’ve made the changes necessary to meet consumer demands, it’s time to prepare for the next possible disruption(s). No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but we now know more than ever why it’s crucial to try. By analyzing past and present trends in numerous sectors, businesses can better anticipate what lies ahead. For example, many organizations have now shifted from face-to-face interactions to web-based business development. You have to ask yourself: Is this shift only temporary or is it permanent? Is my company ready for these changes?

Given that this use of communication technology has the potential to save businesses money and time, it might be safe to say that these changes are not only here to stay, but will be expanded over time. And so, as you prepare for possible disturbances in your industry, look for opportunities to capitalize off of these advancements. For instance, if you predict brick-and-mortar locations will become less important in your sector, you may want to set in motion the move toward adopting a virtual office. With this route, it is still possible for your business to be findable on local internet maps, to provide a place for your mail to go, for someone to answer the phone and it will likely lower your rent substantially. 

Change Can Be Good

The decade has certainly started off with many unique challenges to the status quo in almost all aspects of life. Many describe the disruptions of 2020/2021 as the “new normal,” but perhaps a better way to look at it is that disruption itself is the new normal. In other words, rapid change and uncertainty in the business realm and beyond are here to stay.

It isn’t all bad, though — instead, this is an opportunity to adapt and improve. Through the ongoing process of self-reflection, taking action and actively preparing for the future, companies can streamline and reinvent themselves in new and innovative ways. When the smoke clears, the only true “new normal” may be that businesses can no longer rest on their laurels and live to tell about it.


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