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A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now (Thinks Out Loud Episode 294)

Digital transformation is a process, not a destination. So, even though we’ve seen “two years of digital transformation in two months,” don’t feel like you’re late to the party. You have plenty of opportunity to improve the experience you provide customers using digital right now. Or, you do as long as you take your first step towards digital transformation.

What tools exist to help you on your journey? How can you begin to create great experiences for your customers? And how can you take your first step towards digital transformation for your company, right now? This episode of Thinks Out Loud is here to help you get started.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now — Headlines and Show Notes

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit

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You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 06s

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Transcript — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

Well, hello again, everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, this is episode 294 of the big show, and thank you so much for tuning in. I hope you had a great holiday weekend or a long weekend if you celebrated. I know I did; tanned, rested and ready and looking forward to, you know, a really cool conversation today.

So, you know, there’s a lot going on, right. We’re at the midpoint of the year and it seemed like a good time to talk about what’s going on right now. And to talk about what you can do right now.

Difference Between Strategy and Tactics of Digital Transformation — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

When we talk about digital transformation, when we’re talking about digital strategy, when we’re talking about digital marketing, or things along those lines, a lot of the time I’m talking about the big picture. I mean, the name of the show is Thinks Out Loud, right? These tend to be the bigger view, the strategic view. And I thought it made sense, especially with everything that’s going on right now, to talk a little bit about the more tactical view, what can you do right now. Because we have to remember that digital transformation is not a destination, it is a process. It is a thing that you will keep getting better at as your company, as your business, as your brand becomes more natively digital.

And I talked about the key drivers of digital transformation a couple of weeks ago. And as you well know I will link to all of these in the show notes that you will be able to find at

Importance of Customer-centricity — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

But one of those key drivers is customer centricity. And especially with everything going on at the immediate moment, it’s really worthwhile to talk about what’s important to your customers right now. What is top of mind for them, what is driving their behaviors and their buying patterns and their hopes and their concerns? I mean, we’re in weird times. I know you’ve heard that probably ad nauseam over the last, you know, three months or so.

To that point, my friend Mark Schaefer talks about how in a great post that again, I will link to in the show notes — a great ebook actually — that he put together that’s really worth your time — free ebook, no registration required or anything — he talks about how right now we are in the lower part of Maslow’s hierarchy. You know, if you think about Maslow’s hierarchy, it’s a the hierarchy of needs, what is important to you?

And right now your customers care about the things that are fundamental. They care about the things that are most critical to living life. They care about their wellbeing, you know, food, shelter, sleep, they care about their safety, their security, health resources, right? Do they have money and that they seek belonging and yes, they seek love. They’re not just concerned about these things for themselves. They’re concerned about them for their family. They’re looking for a sense of connection to other people, to other human beings.

I mean, think about what’s driving all those streaming concerts and all the social media activity that’s been going on. Ever since people started quarantining, you know, whether it was their sourdough starter or new cocktails or anything, they just want to belong to a community. So your customer’s needs, and let’s be fair your needs right now, are fairly fundamental. We’re talking about the base level stuff: wellbeing, safety, belonging, love food, shelter, security, health, money, family. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Tools to Assist You — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

And the evidence suggests that Mark is right. Now, there are all kinds of tools that you can use to discover why that is. You know, I talk about why data is the crown jewels a lot. Here’s a perfect example of using data. And I want to be clear. There are all kinds of tools you can use. Many of them are paid tools. But I’m going to talk about how you can do this for free. It’s going to take 5-10 minutes of your time.

Just go to Google, do a Google search for a term that’s important to your business and then do the same search, adding the words COVID or coronavirus.

Now I want to be fair. I rant about Google all the time and the threats that they pose and the challenges that they pose. And let’s be fair. I will do that again in the future… possibly as soon as next week. But as I heard someone say recently, we can argue about the color of the drapes when the house isn’t burning down. So for right now, let’s use Google for what they’re great at, and let’s use their data to help us understand our customers more effectively.

So pick a term that’s important to your business and then do a search for it right on Google. And then on that page, check out, they will have a box either somewhere in the middle of the page, maybe near the top of the page, certainly at the bottom of the page that says something like common searches or related searches and take a look at what it says.

You can also check out question databases, like, or AnswerThePublic or use social listening tools like BuzzSumo or Mention. Obviously there’s all kinds of tools you can use, like SEMrush or Ahrefs or Moz. But just start with the free stuff, because these are all free and they’ll give you some good answers quickly.

Data for Your Customer Journey — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

So I did two different searches; I want to give you two different examples. I chose restaurants for one of them because it’s something we all can relate to. And among the popular searches are restaurants near me that are open, restaurants near me open now, restaurants near me that deliver, restaurants near me with outdoor seating. Notice a pattern?

You know, just to mix things up. I did a search for digital transformation. One of the suggested alternatives was “digital transformation COVID” and that had a bunch of ideas like digital transformation post COVID or after COVID, digital transformation due to COVID-19. Again, you get the idea.

What do the searches or social listening tools that you use for your brand and your business tell you about what’s important to your customers right now? I’m pretty confident. It’s going to show you just like we talked about that they’re kind of at that fundamental level. Maybe they have questions about what’s in stock or how to actually get your products or services right now while they’re distant or maybe they have questions about cleanliness. Maybe they’re uncertain about payment terms, given the state of the economy. The point is that your customers have very real questions that are fundamental to their wellbeing for the products and services you make.

Are You Necessary for Customers? Can You Make Yourself Necessary — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

Now it’s possible because of what you do, it’s possible that you, what you do isn’t necessary. This is a great point in Mark Schaefer’s ebook, and I highly encourage you to read it again, I will link to it in the show notes. But it’s a great point because if you’re what you’re offering is not fundamental. Maybe the evidence will suggest that you need to start thinking about how to be more fundamental. And if you do offer something that’s necessary, but you’re not answering their questions about these fundamental problems, you’re not in the game.

You have to take a look and say, do you have the content that answers the questions that customers care about? You know, I just talked about “data is the crown jewels.” Well, obviously content is king, right? Yuo need to be there. You don’t have to create all the content. You can link to public health sites or partner with others in your community or your industry who can answer the questions that are top of mind for your customers.

Importance of Website and Digital Presence — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

But it’s incredibly necessary, it’s critical that you’re helping your customers with the challenges that they’re facing in this moment. We’ve talked about trying to use digital to do the heavy lifting. Right now, it is a 24x7x365 salesperson. It is a 24x7x365 customer service person. You don’t have to worry about it getting sick. You don’t have to worry about it getting ill. You don’t have to worry about it taking a day off. But you do have to make sure you’re providing the answers to the questions your customers have. And when you’re doing that, you’re demonstrating that you are a valuable resource. You become necessary in the day to day lives of your customers. And that’s true, whether you’re B2C or you’re B2B, because they’ve got very real needs. They’ve got very real challenges. They’ve got very real struggles.

Again, I started that, kind of started the show, by talking about the fact that we’re all getting fed up by hearing about, “Oh, these are difficult times.” Yeah. They are. Great. What are you going to do about it? And more importantly, what are you going to do for your customers about it? Because that’s how you use digital in the real world to transform your business. You use the data that your customers create to learn about what’s important to them. And where needed to adapt your products and services to meet their needs. And you allow digital to assist them wherever they are in the journey, whether they’re just learning about you, whether they’re comparing you to alternatives, whether they’re thinking about buying, whether they’re buying, whether they’re using your product, wherever they happen to be. And that means both in the physical world and in their journey where they happen to be.

Conclusion — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

So, yes, I love thinking about the big picture. I love talking about the big picture. We talked about the big picture a lot here, and obviously you want to make sure you’re not chasing one thing if it’s a short term situation only. But the current situation likely isn’t short term. I mean we’re three months in and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be out of it three months from now. So what you have to do is make sure you’re setting yourself up to execute against what your customers need.

Use data to learn about what your customers need. Use content to support them. And use digital as a complement to all of the other things you do so that you’re helping customers and ultimately helping your business too. Remember it’s a process, not a destination. And the only way you’re going to get there is by taking the first step. Seems like now is as good a time as any to do that.

A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now Show Outro and Wrap-Up

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. But I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes. By heading to Again, that’s Just look for episode 294.

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found, you should be able to find us there. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those. I would also really appreciate it while you’re there if you could provide us a positive rating or review. It helps new listeners find us, helps them understand what the show is all about, and it makes a huge difference to the podcast.

Also, you can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to Again, that’s

I’d also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment increases large enterprise B2B website conversion with easy to deploy software as a service that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your anonymous visitors and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to Again, that’s

With that. I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I very, very much appreciate listening. I know I say it every week. I know it. But I would not do this show without you listening. I very much enjoy getting a chance to speak with you every week. And I so appreciate the time you take to listen.

So with that said, I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead. And I’m looking forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then please be well, be safe and as ever take care of everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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