Yes, the vaccines are coming and promise hope. But for now, the most daunting business challenges since the Great Depression are at our doorstep. What indicators or factors determine whether your business is going to have 10% or 100% of your pre-pandemic revenue and profits?
Hopefully, you are in e-commerce in a big way. It was one of the technologies that was growing well before the pandemic and the pandemic has massively accelerated its growth. For example, many of the baby boomer generation resisted shopping online until their favorite stores closed or they feared the virus or both. Now they use e-commerce religiously.
To help me run and grow my own businesses I keep a sharp eye out on what McKinsey, the Wall Street Journal and other business experts say about current best business practices. Here is what I am picking up. I have distilled the best of what I have read and experienced into what I think of as 8 indicators or markers. For purposes of this column, I will call them Marquard’s Great Eight. As you read them it will reinforce the necessity of embracing and accepting change and transformation to stay relevant.
Capture an image of pandemic hygiene and safety leadership. Even in the last ninety days the buying behavior of your customers has changed dramatically. That behavior is unlikely to change back after the pandemic. The consumer or ultimate customer has entirely new expectations for the ways you handle your COVID avoidance hygiene and safety measures. So do your employees and perspective employees. How well you meet these expectations will dramatically impact whether you get 10% or 110% of your pre-pandemic revenues and profits. To get ahead take highly visible virus transmission reducing steps and do not be bashful about sharing them with your customers. For example, one restaurant listed the body temperature of every person who prepared or touched the delivery of its food products. Buyers will switch brands and vendors at the drop of a hat for perceived hygiene lapses.
- as needed. Live and change in the moment. Be prepared to shift and pivot quickly to changes and opportunities. If demand drops off in one area but pops up in another, act now. Not in 30 days.
Local decisions and markets vary greatly. Strategies that work in Florida likely do not work in California or they worked in Nebraska or Phoenix but now they do not NOW. You need super granularity to spot changes and opportunity in real time.
Don’t rely on one or two initiatives. One size never fits all in this pandemic. Try 10 or 100 or even 1,000 different ways to find out what works best to serve your customer and push the hot buttons that drive their decision making.
What’s working and what’s not? What looks like it is changing? Adapt as needed. If your business does not survive right now there is no post pandemic future to worry about. What do you do if retail closes and consumers stay home? How do you get that business back in, say, 2022 and 2023? If you are a manufacturer rethink how your marketing channels will or will not survive and prosper. How can you best dominate and fill voids? The answer is probably by offering better customer service. Nothing ever boosts sales like great customer service and the pandemic does not change that. Remember: Consumers make changes that tend to stick. In the last 90 days, 75% of brand retailing has changed to put a greater emphasis on internet driven sales. Are you keeping up?
What does the future look like for where you are at this moment? Make sure your products look and feel relevant. Are you bold enough to sign up for top notch sales and marketing help now because you know your products and services are relevant to what is needed in the marketplace at this moment and in the near future?
Embrace the digital surge going on around you. Listen to the call for expanded e-commerce, product service apps, new data sources, social media campaigns and data mining. They should be as clear as the hissing sound of a welding torch to you.
Self-fund your own growth and drop or fix what’s not working. “Tear off the Band-aid” and fix little problems now before they become big problems later. There is no better time than now to do this.
Last, but not least, here is a Dave Marquard bonus tip. Take time out to smell the roses. Recognize the churn and fatigue swirling around you. Don’t panic. Show gratitude for what you have. What matters most to you? Spend the bulk of your time there.