How Entrepreneurs Can Take Advantage of the Next Big Shift in Media The media industry is bound to experience another major shift. Here's how to prepare for it.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If the past few years have taught us entrepreneurs anything, it's that getting well acquainted with being resilient is a necessary skill to have in your tool kit to run your business. The pandemic has shown us that failing to be adaptable for the next inevitable shift can rapidly set us up for defeat, while those who remain agile are ready to pivot as they need to. For example, there were several companies that didn't even consider working remotely as an option for their employees, and now, this is more normalized.
Additionally, throughout the pandemic, shifts in consumer behavior within the broader media industry have changed the ways businesses and brands interact with their customers. Not only did we witness an explosion of content creation, but also a shift in the ways that content is produced, distributed and consumed.
Though the pandemic itself is now an afterthought in the minds of many, the industry-wide shifts it has caused are still a space that we as entrepreneurs are navigating through. And now, we are pondering how another such shift might impact us in the future and what we need to do to be ready.
Stay on top of emerging trends
As with any potential industry shift, the best way to prepare for it is by staying updated on emerging trends; both in what your competitors are doing and how your consumer market is behaving. For example, at the height of the pandemic, many consumers across global industries shifted their buying habits to conduct more brand research and purchases online, rather than at in-person storefronts. So, businesses had no choice but to adapt and create ecommerce channels in order to better meet their customers' needs. Businesses that either didn't or couldn't adapt to this shift were left behind in the wake of their competitors' success.
Media as a whole has seen a massive pivot in the way content is accessed and consumed. Streaming services like Spotify, Netflix and more have caused a resurgence in the rental model of media consumption rather than one of direct ownership. As a result, media brands are now aware that their consumer markets are more willing to pay a single flat monthly rate (i.e. subscription) in return for access to larger libraries of content they can choose from. In response, many brands have expanded upon the services they offer to subscribers. Consumers are wanting more value and are turning to brands to provide this.
Find new ways to engage with customers
If there is one word to describe how entrepreneurs and brands in media can better prepare for the next major industry shift — regardless of what it might be, when it will occur or how — it is "engagement." According to one 2019 survey on consumer commerce, an overwhelming 96% of American consumers agreed that they would be more likely to do business with a company or brand that interacts with them in a more personalized way.
In essence, in a world where brands and companies are looking to scale and pump out as much content and information as possible, it's time to look at the good old-fashioned way of building relationships — connection.
Take the realm of podcasting, for example. Along with being the single-most intimate form of consuming content, podcasting allows for the brands and businesses operating them to engage and connect with their audience in a more personalized manner, even indirectly. As a producer, I've seen the rise of solo episodes pave the way for a deeper connection with audiences. They feel like they are the only ones being spoken to. Another way to connect with audiences is to personally reply to messages and comments. Being seen and heard in a world of noise is incredibly meaningful.
Where you will go, they will follow
The importance of depth with your consumer is going to be telling of your business success. Taking that time to reply to comments, read out a review or send a client a thank-you card goes a long way, and not just in its practicality of karma and kindness. These efforts and gestures effectively scale what is unscalable and could very well be the difference between the occasional customer and a lifelong customer/raving fan. You can take your audience wherever you go, and they will follow you.