September 22, 2023

Tricia Oak

Business & Finance Excellency

How to Future-Proof Your Company’s Marketing

Christan Duncan co-founded his company 11 years ago, and has made sure it never stops evolving.

As Duncan’s tastes have changed, his Atlanta-based clothing brand Honor Roll Clothing has continually sold different types of products. Even as you change to meet the needs of the future, always have a way to remind yourself of your brand’s core values, he advises. 

At a Fast Company Innovation Festival event, Duncan and David Rusenko, general manager of e-commerce at Square (the sponsor of the talk) shared how you can prepare now to get sales in the future.  

Merge digital and in person experiences

Many restaurants added QR code-enabled menus after re-opening for in-person dining during the pandemic. Push yourself to mix digital experiences further with in-person, Rusenko advises. For example, you could have customers use QR codes not only to review the menu, but also submit orders.

When you’re looking to improve or bolster your tech, you don’t have to go far. Hire a consultant, find a better system online, and check out YouTube. It’s “a whole university out there for us,” Duncan says. 

More texting and podcasting 

For a long time, businesses established the terms for interactions with customers. Banks are a great example: Their hours are “the most inconvenient for anyone but very convenient for the bank,” Rusenko jokes. Now, customers expect to be met wherever they are–email, text, phone, Instagram–at any time. Duncan saw that firsthand with his brand after the pandemic hit and canceled its primary revenue driver, events. 

His team realized that to make sales, they needed more contact with customers. Honor Roll doubled down on email marketing and asked consumers if they would like to be texted. Then, the brand started connecting with consumers in less sales-driven ways–such as sending a text to check out the brand’s new playlist. “The challenge is then what am I gonna put in front of my customers that isn’t just ‘Buy something’?” he says. Another way Honor Roll solved for that: Creating a podcast to help build its brand, which also pushed revenue. 

Keep and hone your voice

The pandemic helped Honor Roll “take a step back and think about how can we sell the brand instead of just selling a hoodie or a T-shirt or a jacket,” Duncan says. Stepping back also helped the company stay connected to its mission, even as it expanded its online presence and other communication verticals. 

The most important thing, Rusenko adds, for future-proofing your business is standing out among the hundreds of email communications and sales asks people get all day. Ask yourself what you’re going to say next to your customers, “and do it in a way that’s not boring,” he says.