Welcome to 2022! This is my inaugural post in my new role as President of 360 Live Media, and if there were ever a good time to pick up the baton from our founder, Don Neal, it just might be this very moment in history. As we near the two-year mark of the pandemic era, and hope desperately to usher in the post-pandemic era, we are faced with some new realities to contend with as we chart a path forward through circumstances we neither chose, nor particularly like.
We may think we all want things to go back to ‘normal’ as they were before 2020, but this is neither true nor is it going to happen. Ever. Not this summer, not next year. Never. The world has changed, and pick your analogy, but the horse has left the barn, the genie is out of the bottle, and the toothpaste doesn’t…you know the rest. While we don’t know what the future holds, here’s what we can be fairly sure of:
- TONS of people retired early, so there are a lot of new, and in many cases younger, people in positions of power
- These retirements have impacted membership dues revenue for many individual membership orgs, creating an even more glaring financial imperative to attract and acquire new members who are early in their careers
- Many orgs had to cut staff to stay financially afloat, and are forced to outsource functions like marketing more than ever
- Remote work and the corresponding Zoom video meeting are more credible and common than ever in our society
- Not everyone missed attending your meeting. They may have even found new alternative ways to get the same value for less.
- Most people want to get back to your annual event in-person, but the audience will be different—perhaps smaller and more senior-level attendees
- If you manage people, you know that many of your team members don’t want things to go back to normal. They want to work from anywhere and to have a new level of flexibility around if and how often they work from your office, if you even still have one.
Whether you prefer to attribute the old saw “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten” to Henry Ford or Tony Robbins (the internet attributes to both), the fact is that’s just not true in the current era. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get much less than you’ve historically gotten. If you want to get back to where you were, you’ll have to work harder and smarter. If you want to do better than before, a new vision and strategy is needed.
There is a lot of recent momentum around the idea of transforming your org to be “digital first.” With the exception of bringing back a new version of your analog cash cow—your largest annual tradeshow or event—I suspect the momentum toward digital is justified. As one whose career has been digital first, I look forward to working with many of you to develop new strategies for the (hopefully!) imminent post-pandemic era.