As the world of work slowly begins to steady itself after the severe blow dealt by Covid-19, thoughts must now ultimately turn to how to achieve business growth again. If the first half of 2020 was dictated by survival strategies, the second half should be dedicated to strategies that seek to maximise what is left of the trading year.
Firstly, confidence is likely to be critical. Levels of uncertainty are high, even amid the determination to recapture ‘normality’ and despite the sudden and apparent number of expert virologists on Twitter, the best option for most now seems to doggedly and nervously creep through the coming seasons, as global medical minds seek a rapid solution to a vaccine – something akin to solving Rubik’s Cube for the very first time; at speed, and with lives at stake. Good luck to every research team.
Employers must actively drive these confidence levels. Some businesses responded better than others in response to the Covid-19 crisis, and all employees will have long memories for how their employment, mental health and development were ignored, maintained, or enhanced whilst profitability became exceedingly complex. Those businesses that tackled all of these challenges, have already given themselves the best chance of a strong resurgence.
As this embattled workforce now tentatively sets off for the office again, it is crucial that we adjust the perception of ‘normal’. It is not enough to pop the ‘pandemic survival manual’ back on the shelf and take back down the ‘BAU’ version.
Business has changed. Processes, practices, campaigns, methodologies, partnerships – all may not be as effective as they once were. The new ecosystem must be examined before we pick up our (now dated) methods of harvesting opportunity. Planting seeds in a changed soil is likely to destroy the crop and the confidence of those that sow.
Resources will be limited in the coming months, and expectations – or hopes – will be high. The Bank of England have cautiously predicted a faster recovery than the Financial Crisis in 2008, albeit following a faster (fastest) and deeper (deepest) downturn. Investment and budgets will be scare even amid positive forecasts as for example, 65% of Marketing leaders expect a significant budget decrease in 2020/21 (Gartner).
So, what is your priority when it comes to driving growth?
Maximising Direct Sales
Advertising messages have been tricky during the pandemic. It has been challenging to achieve a balance of care and capitalism that everyone finds acceptable. Those that have the resources to be able to have slowed, stopped, or dropped all purchasing messages, opting for a supportive one instead. With many workers at home, the focus has been on supporting existing customers, not finding opportunities to capitalise on new ones (setting aside certain hygiene/health products). As a result, many have rediscovered direct sales – the strong connection that a real person can generate with a customer, over even the most effective bot, for instance. Perhaps it is time to consider the direct/mass mix of your sales? If the thought of hiring and training new sales staff is out of reach, why not consider an industry symbiosis? The team at Beagle will be happy to discuss how we can help drive direct sales.
Marketing technology is the key to success for any marketing team; whether it is a software to orchestrate campaigns, improve customer segmentation or publish content. Whilst technology underpins the end to end marketing process, its renowned for being complex and hard to get right. The team at NEON Consulting help simplify Martech, using years of experience we assist brands in navigating the difficult and crowded Martech landscape, ensuring you have the right tools in place for your business. Whether you need support selecting a new system, optimising an existing tool, or building a Martech strategy the team will help. Their Martech health check is a great starting point to see how your tech stack is performing today, whilst also providing you with recommendations of how to truly optimise your systems and see a better ROI from your investments.
Physical distance has been forcibly imposed on teams during the lockdown, and ‘social capital’ has been spent, it is crucial that those businesses who demand high-performing teams assess how to invest and help refocus teams – especially those with changed memberships and dynamics. There has never been a better time than to trust a methodology that is based on flexibility, visibility, adaptability, teamwork, a constant emphasis on improvement, and finally delivery. Long lauded by Software Developers as the methodology of choice, Agile Project Management is iterative, and customer-led, meaning value to the business can be achieved faster and changes can be adopted/adapted to much more effectively than in more traditional (Waterfall) methodologies. 80% of CMOs said making the switch to Agile helped them deliver a better product that is more relevant to their end-user. (Forbes/CMG Partners). The benefits are striking with Agile projects being twice as likely to succeed as projects run with traditional project management (Standish Chaos Report). If you are yet to make the switch or need processes polished, the team at AgileSherpas can walk you through it, if you aren’t already investing in better ways of working.
Now is the time to hire and identify that outlier that your business has needed, to turbocharge growth. Clearly there are more people searching for work than there was at the start of 2020, but that does not necessarily make hiring well, an easier task. Beagle have been surprised how many employers have already seen this as an opportunity to get talent on the cheap – we recommend a rethink if this is the strategy. Aim high, and work with a Recruitment Partner who understands how to get under the bonnet of how people have spent their lockdown, and to sift the relentlessly resourceful and the fast-learners from those who have a polished and well-practised routine in any task – whilst these people are efficient, they rarely likely to enhance your competitive advantage. Worth also keeping in mind that many Recruitment companies have spent the last 4 months hollowing out their (costly) experienced staff, so do not assume a big brand can deliver what they did in the past. Hiring Managers must relearn supplier capability before they invest precious time and money.
Companies that launch or re-brand during a downturn, have been seen to achieve greater growth in the following period (Nielsen). There has not been a better time to consider some form of action in this area if you have been putting it off, with many designers happily working from home anyway. Like most businesses, websites are created at the start of a business cycle, and if they do not receive constant updates, they are rarely reflective of the business mission, right now. With consumer trust at an all-time low and expectations seemingly at a high, it is crucial your messaging resonates deeply with your customers. Equally, perhaps now is the time to conduct a new campaign as we start to see the green shoots of recovery, and you will need a clear plan of how to measure ROI with those new expected budgetary constraints, referenced above. If you have nagging doubts about the last time you updated your brand/logo/website and worry that your public profile isn’t completely in line with your mission, speak to the team at Bird, who should give you a lift.
As consumers, 2020/2021 gives us more. More information, more options, more transparency, and sadly scepticism. All suppliers must rise to meet this challenge of decreased consumer trust and increased expectation of quality and delivery, at a time where investment resources are likely to be more precious than ever before.
No business is the same following the global pandemic – and trust must be relearned, even with suppliers of huge historical consequence. Many businesses have worked extremely hard to hone the quality of their offering and raise their game during the lockdown, and look set to reap the rewards as we find our feet again.
Business has evolved – has yours?