As small business owners, disruption surrounds us. Whether we’re being challenged by new technology, ever-evolving consumer demand or the pace of our 24/7 society, disruption is our new normal.

In this adapt or die world, we need to embrace change just to survive. Which means, it’s time to make our peace with disruption.

Let’s face it, things are not going to change anytime soon. In fact, our collective appetite for progress, efficiency and change is only set to grow. Which brings me to the surprising truth about disruption.

No doubt, you’re thinking of disruption in the digital sense. Technology has transformed every part of our business, irrespective of industry. We’re living in one of the most disrupted periods in history, the fourth industrial revolution.

Technology and the internet of things are changing every aspect of how we live and work.

However, we’d be wrong to credit technology with the current level of disruption that we face.

While technology is enabling unprecedented levels of disruption, it’s not the only driver.

The truth is, our customers (which includes you and me) are driving disruption.

Yes, it’s our customers driving disruption – surprised?!

Consumers are demanding more information, greater convenience, better quality, more value and increased levels of service. Most of all, they are looking for an experience when they purchase a product or service.

So, how can you learn to embrace disruption? How can you make the most of the opportunities that disruption brings? How can you keep up with the pace of customer demand?

As an experienced marketing consultant and disruption specialist, I’ve worked with many businesses, large and small, as they’ve faced the challenge of disruption. Drawing on my experience, here are my tips for leaning in and embracing disruption, whatever your industry.

How to embrace disruption

Food and Beverage

The restaurant industry has faced serious disruption from food aggregators like Uber Eats, Menulog and Deliveroo. For many restaurant owners, it’s easy to believe these aggregators are stealing customer loyalty and squeezing profit margins. After all, they are the face of the seismic shift in the way consumers are now ordering food.

However, it’s actually consumers driving disruption. Think about it. Smartphones at the table. Food blogs. Amateur restaurant reviews. Photographs of perfect meals ‘Instagrammed’ and filtered before anyone has taken a bite. People don’t just want to just eat food – they want to review it, blog about it, take photos of it and experience it.

To embrace disruption in this space, It’s vital to understand what’s driving customer behaviour. Understanding the customer experience will help you meet their changing needs. This could result in a change of menu, the introduction of new food experiences or engaging influencers and the media to boost your visibility and online presence.


Get to know your customers and what they want in a dining experience

  • Check out online sites (aggregators and review sites) to understand current levels of customer satisfaction and service quality. Check out the competition too!
  • Talk directly with your customers, not just about the quality of their meal, but about their overall dining experience (and be willing to listen and learn).
  • Start conversations with your customers on social media. Ask them specific questions to understand what they are looking for in a dining experience.


Change is the buzzword in today’s retail market. The continuing rapid change in shopping behaviour is creating massive strains on brick & mortar retailers, struggling to compete with e-commerce websites. It’s getting harder to compete with sites like Shopify providing low cost off-the-shelf service options to anyone wanting to launch an online store.

Again, consumers are driving this disruption, seeking convenience, discounts and a true experience when shopping, either in-store or online. Consumers are more knowledgeable and selective – they expect better levels of service, guarantees of quality, good value plus an immersive shopping experience.

In a recent Eventbrite survey, 78% of millennials said they prefer to buy a quality experience or event than a desirable product, with 55% of millennials spending more on experiences than ever before. To embrace disruption in the retail sector, you need to take risks and experiment with interesting and exciting shopping environments. This might involve revamping product lines, upgrading storefronts and making online purchasing a truly memorable experience.


Review the consumer journey from start to finish

  • Identify your main interactions with consumers throughout the purchasing process. Are you making each interaction an experience or is it merely a transaction?
  • Research best practice in your industry to identify new technology or processes to improve the consumer experience.
  • Examine the data (sales, reviews, etc) to identify your best sellers. Is it a great product or are you providing a more satisfying experience for your customers?

Professional Services

Digital technology, led by social, mobile, cloud, big data, artificial intelligence and the 24/7 need for information, is the leading disrupter in the professional services sector. Technology is delivering more efficient ways to share knowledge, analyse information and provide services. As a result, clients are demanding more from professionals, challenging businesses to keep up.

Surviving and thriving in this sector is about getting back to basics. It’s about reviewing your business model, evaluating your existing services and examining the potential for new product offerings. To fully embrace disruption in the professional services sector, it’s vital you can deliver the level of integrated services your clients demand.

I’ve helped businesses develop products from their services, transforming the value they offer to clients. This level of transformation requires a thorough reimagining of their entire business model. In fact, a lot of my work in this sector lies in helping businesses create packages for discrete customer groups and in making their services more digitally deliverable.


Ensure your service offerings are delivering the best possible client experience

  • Do you have a popular and valued service that you can develop into a digitally deliverable product?
  • Can you package a range of services into an all-in-one offer, providing a higher level of service to your clients?
  • Is there a niche or target market you can better service, delivering a tailored solution for discrete customer groups?

Whatever your industry, remember that your customers’ interaction with your business is a journey.

You might see your website, social media channels, advertising or landing pages as merely marketing assets. However, to your customers, these make up the collective experience of your brand. It’s vital to define the customer experience so you make their journey memorable, one that they will want to share with others and enjoy all over again.

Looking to learn more about embracing disruption and how to become more agile and change-ready? Are you keen to build your own marketing capability? Join Marketing Sense’s free 7 day marketing challenge and start building your business one day at a time!

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