Panic to Prestige: Making the Most of the Post-Pandemic Marketplace

At three years in, the pandemic has shifted ideas and methodologies on everything from food delivery to work-life balance. It’s fair to say that lessons have been learned though I don’t think you’ll get a lot of agreement as to which lessons those were. The New Normal that was predicted to materialize hasn’t, and in its place, we see a risk-shy market and businesses that can’t decide if they’re hiring or imploding one week from the next. What gives? As a humble freelance marketer, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on what’s happening.

Setting Up Shop on the corpse of Mom & Pop

Consumer attitudes shifted wildly overnight when things began to fall off the rails at the beginning of the pandemic. Panic buying and risky investment behaviors were deadly to small businesses; when the smoke cleared, many people were forced to pivot into new careers or change strategies to evolve along with consumer sentiments. Over time, we did settle into a New Something, but it wasn’t the Normal that had been anticipated or hoped.

Remote working has increased wages as many white-collar workers are no longer constrained by location and can compete in the broader market. These workers, who spend more time at home, attribute more value to their surroundings since they aren’t spending most of their waking hours inside an office. The increase in home purchasing creates a frenzy that drives up prices and attracts large, predatory corporations with deep investment capital to corner the market. Supply chains fracture as demand shifts from one panic to the next, putting a strain on limited logistics resources and a crumbling transportation infrastructure. Price gouging masked as inflation attempts to recapture worker wages, and interest and federal rates ratchet up as big movers become nervous, seeing a spiral beginning to form. As if this wasn’t chaotic enough, OpenAI entered the mainstream and shows business owners that you can generate misinformation and quick content at the click of a button.

What’s worse is that we both know this is a quick and nasty outline; it doesn’t begin to cover all of the changes to market structure and demand that have happened. Let’s call this part one - COVID happened, and everyone lost their shit. We’re just beginning to come out of this stage slowly; I think the current struggle is that no one is confident enough to say what the form ‘New Marketplace’ is taking. Maybe we’re not through experiencing massive shifts, so we can’t get a good look at the big picture yet. Until larger organizations can plot the borders of the post-COVID market, speculation will probably continue to run rampant. I think we can start to make some guesses about what the equilibrium might look like, though. Let’s take a look at what strategies survived the pandemic shakeup.

Agility as a Service

Quickly adjusting to consumer demands and preferences has become essential to market survival. In both service and production-based industries, those that were able to change from one model to another were the ones that have managed to thrive. The Ghost Kitchen phenomenon of chain restaurants rebranding themselves as indie foodie destinations kept many restaurants like TGI Fridays and others afloat when previously they had been considered killed by millennials. Small businesses that wanted to survive needed to learn many hard lessons, and those that became adaptable were kept alive.

Digital marketing became mandatory for businesses as customers who had resisted online purchases were more inclined to do so. With the modernization of smaller businesses, the utilization of consumer data has become a more mainstream idea. These new players understand the utility of an on-site marketer to collect, analyze, and act upon consumer information in real time. As one of these marketers, I’ve been attending interviews with companies that reflect these sentiments and are looking for someone to advance their new efforts. Automation and other techniques previously relegated to larger companies are being used by the little guy, making this an exciting and deadly time to try and new venture. That’s a good place to wrap Part Two, essentially ‘be quick or be dead.’ The businesses that lived, big and small aren’t just the ones that were able to change rapidly; it’s those that have integrated rapid change into their workflow. Being adaptable is more than just adapting one time. You must continue to adjust to external forces and be ready to expand into a gap and create a niche when you see an opportunity. Companies that have been driving innovation also have another thing in common - their use of chat-gpt and similar AI tools.

GPT-4 and the next generation of content creation

As of this post, we’ve got less than half an hour to go until the launch of the newest iteration of the most popular AI tool in recent memory. Without a doubt, we’ll see its use in the coming weeks driving even more speculation and job loss as people come to terms with the power of on-demand content generation. With a good editor, these tools can help create valuable and informative content, but they are still just tools. To be fully effective, they need to be used as part of a larger content strategy with considerate and creative minds at the helm.  

The New Normal, if it exists, is still a work in progress. To make the most of this market and ensure your business thrives, you must be willing to change your strategies quickly. Stay on top of the latest trends and technology, get creative with your content, and use both people and machines to power your content. As turbulent as the market may be, it is primed for innovation and new ideas - don’t be afraid to take a chance and see what happens.