In a recent post, I mentioned a labor strike as a productive analogy for developing strategies during this time of global disruption. That recommendation came from my own experience at a transportation company where I’d inherited the marketing department during a labor strike. Facing a complete business shutdown, our team used a combination of strategic thinking and real-time course correction to stay engaged with and attempt to re-win the customers we couldn’t currently serve.
And while the global disruptions from COVID-19 are vastly different in scale, the analogy holds: if your customer experience delivery has been disrupted in any way, now is the time to employ strategic thinking and a rigorous focus on innovative thinking and implementation to survive and grow the business.
This imperative to focus and move forward applies to leaders in any organization, whether major brands or small and mid-sized businesses. Especially in small and mid-sized businesses, there’s are unique opportunities to impact business survival, paving the way for thriving in the future.
With the near-term challenges of dealing with newly remote teams and the changing landscape of what’s allowed or not in business and society, where should you focus? In what vital areas do you have the greatest strategic leverage to innovate and impact your success?
The 10 Vital Areas to Focus on Right Now
Here is our recommendation on the ten vital areas you should address right now for the health of your organization. We’ll cover five here in greater depth, with a special Facebook Live on the Brainzooming Facebook page this Wednesday, April 1 (like us now to get updates) to share ideas across all ten areas.
1. Prioritize Strategic Issues
Ask (and re-ask) what matters right now, in a month, and two months. We’ve always preached that the definition of strategic doesn't include a time component. Strategic isn't five years from now. Strategic, especially in this moment, is all about big decisions on what matters, right now. Today. In the next 30 minutes. Stay on top of, and help shape understanding about, strategic issues for your organization. Communicate it so others can better align with what will move your organization forward.
2. Take an Investment Approach to Protect Your Brand
Embrace your important two-fold role: a savvy cost-cutter and an advocate for super-smart investments in customer relationships / sustaining your brand. It's easy for finance and operations leaders to become strong voices for pushing cost cutting everywhere. You should use data and insights to slash costs that aren't productive right now. Simultaneously, you should also be leading the charge for investing in brand presence and customer relationships that will be essential, even if your business is shut down or hardly operating currently.
3. Develop Customer Insights
What are you doing right now to understand your customers better? How are you gaining insights into the new pressure points for them? While things keep changing, now is the time to understand the early changes by asking smart strategic question and developing insights that can put or keep your brand ahead.
4. Engage and Re-Engage Customers
How are you engaging and retaining customers in appropriate ways that they prefer? If you haven't been able to serve customers, what are you doing to win them back when you can serve them again? I see so many emails right now from brands that are still all about the brands and nothing about what customers are facing. By stark contrast, HubSpot sent an email the other day that all but took my breath away. It delivered the right tone, sharing adjustments to its products, prices, and delivery that were based on what customers need. Remember, engaging and re-winning customers is only partly about messaging. It is overwhelmingly about what you are doing for customers.
5. Ensure Appropriate Messaging
Review every planned and automated message for the brand. Review all the static messages you have anywhere online. What comes across as tone deaf this week? What may come across that way in the weeks ahead (with more infections, more death)? What isn't relevant anymore and won't be for the foreseeable future? Even if your messaging was completely solid a month ago, this is something you should do immediately.
6 through 10 and a Brainzooming Facebook Live Event
To learn more about areas six through ten that you need to address, be sure to join us for our Wednesday, April 1 Facebook Live at 2 pm EDT. I’ll discuss these first five vital areas along with the important innovation, process, capabilities, and development opportunities that we should all be addressing.
If you want to go even deeper, we’ll be back Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. with an online collaboration opportunity to ask questions and capture ideas from the Brainzooming team and others in the Brainzooming community.
Don't miss these two great opportunities to focus your efforts and innovate your way through today's challenges!