In business, planning for the future is as difficult as it is necessary. Branding your business, just like building your personal brand, means you have to think about the long term. What works in establishing your brand today might feel stale tomorrow. It’s impossible to know what the coming year might hold for your company — or others — but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing.
Future-prepping means trying to assess what your company is going to need, both in the short and long term. Immediate planning means balancing budgets, identifying target markets, and anticipating industry changes. For longer-term planning, however, you have to think bigger.
It’s hard to predict what’s coming next — or how it will affect your company. If you’re looking to build a sustainable business brand going forward, focus on these steps first:
1. Invest in cutting-edge thought
Most people try to predict what’s going to happen down the line, but some actually know what they’re talking about. Thinkers on the bleeding edge of their fields aren’t easy to come by, but their insights can be invaluable for helping your business thrive well into the future.
Whether it’s an outside consultant or one of the country’s best futurist speakers, finding an expert with insights relevant to your business can go a long way. Whether it’s blockchain, the Internet of Things, dynamic ads, or something else entirely, expertise in a sector you want to capitalize on can give your brand a powerful edge moving forward.
2. Make it digital
You’ve heard it before: Digital platforms are the way of the future. But what does this mean for your company? Sure, more and more business is done digitally every year, but what else can be done on computers that isn’t already?
As it turns out, quite a bit. Telecommuting is surely poised to take over as time goes on — more than two-thirds of managers report an increase in productivity from remote workers. Remote work can save money on commuting and office overhead as well. Similarly, video conferencing looks to slash travel costs while enabling businesses to enjoy more personal face-to-face communication than ever before.
Anything from accounting to marketing could almost certainly be streamlined using a digital platform, so how is your company preparing?
3. Go green
It’s not just a trend — consumers are increasingly looking toward companies that have environmentalism at the heart of their message. More than 70% of consumers are willing to pay a premium of at least 5% for more sustainable products, with many happy to pay even more. By taking the green revolution to your office, you can significantly increase your brand’s standing with a large number of consumers.
It’s not just about image, either. As time goes on, renewable energy gets cheaper. Switching your business’s infrastructure to more sustainable power sources now can save you big bucks down the line. A more energy-efficient office can also slash power bills. When it comes to greening your business, it’s an investment in your company’s success, both now and in the future.
4. Automate the right way
Everyone has heard that robots are coming for humans’ jobs. While that may not be completely true, it is true that automation is becoming a more valuable tool for businesses every single day. Marketing automation alone has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry in less than a decade — and other sectors are looking to follow suit.
One of the best places to start the automation process is with menial tasks that prevent workers from doing the valuable work you hired them for. Look for automation platforms that do things like store email templates or perform mundane customer service. By eliminating those tasks, your workers can focus more on expansion and increasing revenue.
Businesses planning for the future need to account for the fact that their competitors will increasingly automate their workflow, and you’ll have to do the same to keep up. Automating at random isn’t going to cut it — you need to develop a strategy for automating the tasks they currently drag your team down the hardest and go from there.
Planning for the future might sometimes sound like science fiction, but it’s very real. Businesses that stay on the bleeding edge of what’s happening are far more likely to survive and thrive as time goes on. If you want to make 2020 and beyond work for your brand, you need to stay ahead of the curve.
Source: Stephanie Jones for The Ladders