Things have changed.
Most of us are moving through our second month of operating in a world struggling with a pandemic. During this time weekdays and weekends have blurred, crisis management and communications have dominated our daily agendas, and we’ve worked in a largely reactionary environment.
Now, it’s time to think and lead forward. It’s time to stop reacting and start responding to the other side of the Coronavirus. Now is the time to start thinking about “normal” business operations.
I’m putting together and starting to execute my post-Coronavirus plan. You should too.
First, let’s start with some basic assumptions that should inform your strategy.
- Coronavirus (and viruses like it) might be a permanent part of our world. There are credible reports that the Coronavirus may kick back up in subsequent waves or seasonally.
- Offices will be the exception. Manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and limited food services and retail will be the only use cases for working together in a building. Most of us will be permanently become remote, WFH (Work From Home) workers.
- Companies and teams will need different, non-persistent office space for retreats, workshops, and focused team collaborations. What will these spaces look like? Who will own and manage them?
- Team members are going to need clarity and steady leadership from you.
- Team members’ activities and roles are going to change as your business adapts.
- Your website will be your corporate headquarters and primary source of revenue. This will significantly alter what will be effective and appropriate user experiences. Customers will need more than a brochure from your website.
- Your sales channel mix and processes are going to change significantly. Person-to-person interactions, visiting partners and customers, and engaging large groups of prospects at conferences and trade shows are not an option.
- The recovery will be faster than you expect, don’t be left behind figuring things out. You need to use an adaptive, bottom-up approach to allow you to tactically adjust and refine your top-down strategy.
There are certainly more essential assumptions to be added to this list, but let’s start looking at how to begin responding to these assumptions.
- Focus on creating an effective remote workforce and culture. At Kaleidico, we’re talking a lot more about our philosophy – how we view the world and the value system that helps us make decisions. This allows each team member to make more decisions independently, but still deliver consistent results and experiences to all of our clients.
- Outcomes and timelines are valued over tasks. Again, this helps us to deliver consistent results and experiences to clients. We still value process, as it pertains to delivering an excellent result to clients, but we don’t use the process as a surveillance tool to monitor our team members.
- Websites need to become tools and service centers. Without traditional buildings and offices, our websites have to do more of the work. Banks, mortgage lenders, insurance agents, and law firms (our traditional clients, but other industries are experiencing the same) are having to modify their websites to take the customer service workload off of their call centers. This means designing and building UI/UX features that enable self-service and true fulfillment without the need for a phone call or in-person interaction.
- Marketing is 100% online and it’s about to get crazy competitive. We thought people were sucked into their mobile devices before Coronavirus quarantine, well that screen time just spiked to infinity. The
number oneonly way to capture impressions is now digital. TV, radio, direct mail, and OOH is seriously impaired. Email, Google, Facebook, YouTube, YouTube TV, and associated content is the only way to market your business in a social distanced world. You have to figure this out and figure it out fast. As everyone has to get in the market, it’s going to get even more competitive.
- Content is king, but it’s a lot different. Content is the Web. After all, the Internet is a network of hyperlinked text documents, and more recently multimedia. But, simply feeding the Google search monster (SEO – Search Engine Optimization) isn’t enough. You have to learn how to create and to distribute interesting and unique content that serves your customers. Content that helps customers learn, discover, and fulfill their wants and needs. You can’t just serve a keyword reference in a search engine. You need to create a complete journey from awareness, discovery, interest, and action all the way through to fulfillment.
- Sales channels are 100% digital. No more pressing the flesh, wining and dining, schmoozing and glad-handing. This probably means reshaping your sales processes and training in new skills for your sales team – hosting Zoom meetings and webinars, using social media to generate demand, and most importantly using email automation to nurture their pipelines.
- Selling is essential. You can’t stop generating sales. Sales activity is the fuel for your business. Your sales team is on the frontline of the market – detecting changes in demand and needs. If you’re not currently selling and adapting your sales process to the new environment then you’re going to be left behind.
- Lead nurturing is a secret weapon. 95%+ of leads – prospects – get left behind. Not because they will never buy anything, but because you stopped talking to them. You bought and paid for that lead, that opportunity. Maybe it was buying them lead, the list, the visit to your website, but one way or another you invested in acquiring that customer’s interest. But, there is no way that a salesperson can consistently follow up with every lead he gets until they buy. So, if you don’t create a lead nurturing system, typically involving drip email campaigns and text messaging then you are wasting thousands of dollars in marketing and losing thousands, probably millions, of dollars of sales revenue.
- Business leaders with an audience (influencers) are priceless. There was a time when business executives were inaccessible to their customers and the market that they serve. They set and analyzed reports in plush corner offices. The new digital-first, largely digital-only market and the customers that are shifting to this way of consuming demand access to the leaders of the brands they engage and buy from. Leaders that are comfortable being accessible to and engaged with consumers online, leaders that influence the markets are priceless in what will be following this crisis. People coming out of the crisis will look for understanding and guidance. They will follow and buy from people that give them confidence – people they can watch and learn to trust through their insights and leadership.
- Improve your use of a personal, empathetic voice and tone. This has not been the default language in business, on social media, and in our discourse over the last decade. However, this pandemic has humbled all of us. As such, I think that consumers are going to respond to brands that are more civil and caring in their dialogue with the market. It’s worth taking the time to reframe your brand voice to gain a more personal and empathetic approach. To do this with intention and consistency, it might serve you to create a brand voice and tone guide.
That’s a lot to think about, but if I were to summarize I would reduce it to this shortlist of focused guidance.
- Strengthen your team – be good to each other
- Start building the ability to serve your customers 100% online
- Continue to sell and learn from your customers
- If you’re a business leader, engage customers and the market directly
What do you think? What are you doing to position your company for a strong recovery?