Let digital fads disrupt your competitors while you focus on your customers
In times of crisis, social media comes alive with experts offering silver bullets to help businesses survive in unprecedented times. The internet becomes awash with tiresome, cliched insights and so called words of wisdom, amplified within an echo chamber of the loudest experts complimenting each other on their wonderful solutions and “amazing” talents. The COVID 19 crisis is of course no different, and arguably has brought things to a new level (perhaps contributing to my rant).
In the digital sector, social media channels have been clogged up with experts spruiking advice and selling "amazing" insights on how to thrive as we face “unprecedented digital disruption” at this “tipping point” for business. It seems every business must “pivot” and adopt a “digital-first” mentality or they won't survive.
Of course there are truths in the observations. In fact, observing these changes and providing alarmist calls to action may have some value in driving change in certain industries.
However, getting people to do something, does not mean they do the right thing.
In this environment many businesses will make rash decisions, spurred on by social media chatter.
The drive to online at all costs is an example. Yes, putting your business online is crucial for many in the short term to earn any income at all. But is it complemented by a medium to long term strategy? Once we get back to normal do you really expect to compete head-to-head online with Amazon, Uber Eats, Airbnb, or any one of the other major online players? Indeed, even for small businesses in niche industries, unless you are the leader worldwide, competing directly online with better resourced, better-known players this is a highly risky strategy. Mark Ritson, articulates it very well in a recent article in marketing week.
Clearing the fog to do what is best for your organisation
At the time of writing (September 2020), the COVID Crisis still has months to play out. Once it has subsided, we will still have to deal with the economic fallout for many months and possibly years. It is important to think positively. This time will pass and better times will return.
The crisis is a wonderful catalyst for change, and has swept away much internal resistance in organisations, resistance that is often the biggest obstacle for driving digital transformation. However, rather than using the opportunity to make rash short term decisions, now is the time for cool heads. Yes, business leaders may have to act quickly. But they must also make rational decisions, combine short-term and long-term thinking, and implement nuanced strategies.
Why waste the crisis on developing only short-term actions, when you can also use it to drive long-term changes that will ensure your business is set-up for a successful future?
Yes, maybe you do need an immediate online plan, but more importantly you probably need a better long-term business strategy with a strong focus on engaging customers and improving loyalty.
The choice is quite simple:
- You can focus on reading about all the digital "silver-bullets" that are being pushed at you and try all kinds of random ways of using them, or
- You can focus on what your customers value, analyse what they need now and in the future and what you need to do to remain valuable and relevant to them.
Two books that I’ve read in the last few months have provided some great insights which we can apply to our own and our clients' businesses.
- Connected Strategy – Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage by Nicolaj Siggelkow and Christian Terwiesch, HBR Press 2019.
- The Definitive Guide to B2B Digital Transformation – How to Drive Uncommon Growth by Prioritizing Customer over Technology by Fred Geyer and Joerg Niessing, 2020.
Over the coming weeks, we'll investigate customer relationships and customer first thinking in today's environment. We'll look at some of the insights and tools outlined in the two books above and also revisit trusted tools like the business model canvas and discuss how it can be used in today’s turbulent environment.
I hope this blog helps to get you thinking about your business and how to better serve your customers. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas too. Feel free to get in touch on our website or through our social media channels.