Yes, the world changed three weeks ago; your business was already built for better, faster and bigger responses.
Most regions of the country are three or four weeks into a new world that’s drastically altered our personal and professional lives. “Business is changing faster than ever” had been a hackneyed consultant’s platitude; today it’s life writ large.
At Bader Rutter, we meet regularly with our clients to discuss how to deliver bigger, better and faster. This drove our agency to implement an Agile workflow last year.
So, as we saw the world changing in March, we immediately asked: Should today’s business world operate any differently than the world we knew three weeks ago?
The answer is both yes and no.
Yes, because a new environment demands adjustments and evolution. Every single action you take now must be considered against a new set of strategic questions: Is the tone appropriate? Should we still invest? How can our plants continue operating safely? How will this affect our line of credit? What does liquidity look like? What federal programs can I take advantage of? How are our customers affected? How must the sales force adapt? There are so many new and unfamiliar requirements that must be considered before acting.
But the answer is also no, because you already built your business to grow bigger and move faster, which means you’ve become adept at implementing rapid change. You’ve learned how to tweak your business model on the fly, create flexible supply chains and answer the varying needs of your customers. These practices are always a work in progress, but you have had practice and you have made progress.
To Thrive Now, Pivot to an External POV
Thriving amid a global pandemic requires one crucial action now: Reassess your business from the outside in. Taking an external perspective on an enterprise where you have powerful personal and emotional connections will help your business teams reprioritize and overcome the challenges of this new landscape.
At Bader Rutter, our business consulting group and our account business leaders began assessing external threats and opportunities almost immediately for both our clients and ourselves. Dispassionate evaluation of external forces helps prioritize where you need new strategies and whether former strengths may now be weaknesses.
SWOT, TOWS, SOAR: Pick Your Acronym ASAP
Whatever analysis tool works for you is fine; the critical issue is to start assessing your business immediately. Market shocks can throw organizations into immediate crisis and threaten their very existence. Threats run a broad gamut, but many expose enterprise-wide vulnerabilities.
Three critical questions for businesses to ask: What threats could harm you? Are your weaknesses exposed for all to see? How could the competition beat you?
You may feel somewhat protected if you have a strong and seasoned sales force, but that can become a liability if your customer management system (CMS) generates low-quality records in the newly non-face-to-face world. If this is the case, virtually gather your sales team to share where marketing can help them by improving their data recording systems. Now more than ever, building affinity between sales and marketing can help your business both endure and thrive with CMS.
At the moment, you are understandably concerned about what’s happening within your own organization. But now is also a time when you must be monitoring your competition. Market share will shift to companies that adapt their customer experience the fastest. While you must play your own game, knowing how your competition is responding can help you prioritize as you re-create your customer’s experience.
Our agency is fortunate that the majority of industries where we specialize are considered essential: food & beverage, pet care, agriculture and manufacturing. That said, every one of their supply chains are stretched perilously. Operations and procurement teams, never particularly known for their patience or bedside manner, face serious stress as communication becomes exponentially more critical. Finding ways to share ideas and information efficiently throughout the chain can help ensure supplier loyalty, both now and later.
Dark Times Can Reveal Bright Opportunities
There’s real wisdom in the old adage: “Where there’s confusion, there’s money to be made.”
To uncover opportunities, consider asking three important questions: How do you harness disruption? What current customer and societal challenges could you assist with? What do your customers need to survive and thrive — because your survival depends on theirs?
One way to harness disruption is to reconsider the threats you identify as opportunities to rethink the customer journey. How can that experience now and over the next few months answer new wants and needs? If you’re a challenger brand (and really, who isn’t a challenger brand?), now is the time to help your customer create new expectations around your products or services. Can you introduce an extra service or type of support to increase customer loyalty?
Help Now to Build Relationships That Last
As veterinarians, food producers, farmers and manufacturers, most of our clients’ customers are still operating. We’re using this opportunity to dig in and create new ways to make those customers more successful. For instance, while veterinarians are still seeing patients in their practices, pet owners no longer wait in small waiting rooms, so veterinarians are struggling with product sales. Offering IT services to connect pet owners with veterinarians, including personalization around their particular pet, will cement veterinarian loyalty and drive product sales.
Your customers are starved for connection. They’re worried about how to deal with new threats, from managing employee health to cash flow to supply chains. This is no time to go dark or send business-as-usual communications. Focus on offering virtual connections for problem solving, such as organizing 45-minute customer peer-to-peer connection calls for shared solutions.
In the End, There’s No Real End
Modern marketing lives in a state of continual flux. Business leaders and entrepreneurs flourish because they know how to deliver bigger, faster, better no matter the unpredictable circumstances. That’s what we’re striving to do at Bader Rutter. And what we hope for your business too.
About the Author:
A member of the Bader Rutter Executive Leadership Team, David Jordan leads the BR Business Consultancy Group. His eclectic group includes MBAs, a former CMO from an entrepreneurial investment group, a veterinarian and the former commercial operations leader for a multi-billion-dollar business unit of a Fortune 500 company. The BR Business Consultancy Group consults with both inline and specialty clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups in food & beverage, agribusiness and pet care.