Survive And Thrive During The Pandemic

Making lemonade out of lemons has never been more critical to your business. Explore 10 productive activities you or your team can do now to position yourselves for a faster restart.

August 4, 2020

1.   Strengths and Struggles

A simple exercise begins with some entity self-awareness.  Assess where your firm excels, and where you need improvements.  Simply grab a homemade latte (if you don’t dare go out), and think deeply, honestly, and openly of 3-5bullets that your company does extremely well, as well as the greatest areas for improvement.  Write it down!  Then think of the same on an individual level for your own role as a leader or individual contributor.  You may be quite surprised by what emerges simply by pausing, thinking, and documenting the outcome.  Depending on your company culture, (and in conjunction with H/R of course!), you may do this at a department, division, orLine of Business (LoB) level.   And you may do so anonymously, and have a third party aggregate and facilitate, or share more openly.  How you then communicate the insights also varies based on norms, and the results, but that shouldn’t stop you from the exercise!  

2.   Customer Feedback

Now extend the same concept to your customers.  Reexamine (or begin to plan)a robust program to capture, analyze, and act upon your customer (and partner) feedback.   You know, those customer satisfaction surveys you promised to do regularly, proactively, and read and make changes about, right?  OK, now you DO have the time –and so do your customers!  Remember getting a new customer is 5-25 times more difficult than retaining an existing one (Invesp) so it is prudent to build and maintain, and act upon this customer experience  vehicle.

Map out the right cadence, types of information you want, and customer profile information and send them out.   And if you already have a mechanism in place, great, just reassess whether it is working and plan the changes now.  Simply asking your customers shows that you care about their success.  

3.   Entity Strategy

As we’ve clearly seen change truly is the only constant.  Whether your business has been around for a year or a century, what was your original raison d'etre?  Why is your business here, and where do you want to take it?  Do you still want to create a legacy business for your children, or have they determined their own fate, (e.g., are secluded in a mountain cabin somewhere)?  If the kids moved on, no worries, you shift to an exit strategy to optimize valuation in five years and build campaigns and staffing around that model instead.  And since you’ll plan extensively for several contingencies, if they do return, you will be ready.  I am continuously surprised that even experienced leaders spend too little time on this question, and are often more focused solely on a product strategy – not why it is being made.  And with this solid foundation, other strategies and tactics flow through the entity to support your vision.  Use the time you previously spent commuting in the car to improved planning that accelerates your business and ensures you are aimed in the right direction!  

4.  Brand Identity

To wit, now that we know who we are and why we’re here, is your current brand representative of this strategy?  Do you need a refresh (e.g., BP) or outright scrap(think Enron), more modern look and feel, or a color makeover?   Take time now to at least determine at a high level whether you are positioned correctly, and compellingly.  Is your brand positioning appropriate, messaged correctly, differentiated from your competition, etc.  In addition, PublicRelations, Analyst Relations, Investor Relations, social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and other programs are increasingly important, and must be reassessed along with your brand.  In short, do YOU honestly LOVE your brand?  If not, how do you expect your customers and prospects to love it?  


5.  Segmentation & Targeting

While we’re at it, there is no better time to review market and audience targeting. Are you still aiming at the right companies and audiences?  Even if your business strategy and brand is the same, it is likely your industry, company, geography, demographic, target personas use cases and job titles are vastly different.  Are your former “best” customers still the same.  What is the basis for your newIdeal Customer Profile (ICP)?  Is the core of your  Account Based Marketing(ABM) strategy unchanged?  Reassess these elements now, and build a new market segmentation plan, and audience targeting model to feed into your campaigns.  


6.  Campaign Planning & Lead Generation

Now is the time to explore building campaigns to keep current customers, and generate more leads based on those goals.  It is imperative to have reassessed the strategy, brand, segmentation, and current situation so we can build campaigns and a tactical execution plan that adheres to the goals, and is orchestrated consistently.  Pricing, distribution, marketing mix, event strategies, supply chain, buyer journeys, sales workflows, and more have been disrupted and may need to be modified.  Now is an excellent time to review top-, mid-,and bottom-funnel results, plans, and budgets to accelerate your business.  

7.  Promotional Products

And if you truly want to show appreciation, NOW is the time to give a meaningful, relevant promotional products to customers, prospects, and staff.    We recommend reviewing your promotional product strategy and realigning it to your brand again.  Promos can truly help your brand stand out, demonstrate your company’s creativity, and show thought leadership.  All of these benefits help drive differentiation and more impressions for your company - and clever items can build a closer, “stickier” relationship. Remember, these items have months of duration and exposures, and impressions scale beyond just the user of the item!   Contemporary items often combine multiple benefits into one items, such as eco-friendly materials to support sustainability, or use of labor from disadvantaged staff to help local community efforts.     Nearly nine of ten consumers remember the branding of a promotional product and roughly eight in ten looks up the brand after receiving a promotional product.  See our related blog post.


8.  Financials

You can’t fix what you can’t see!  Industry leaders from sports to business have migrated to  an ever more data driven environment.  The aforementioned plans are woven together into a cohesive financial plan and surrounding metrics.  While crystal balls are inherently opaque, the mere exercise appears worthwhile, and having some roadmap for success over your desired planning horizon is advantageous. Based on the entity vision, and a combination of art and science, long range plans cascade into annual plans, monthly budgets, and other metrics.  But are you measuring the right things that lead to success?  Do you have intermediate metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that provide an early warning system?  Are team and individual compensation plans also aligned and driving the right set of behaviors?  Discover if you are measuring and monitoring the right barometers that we achieve your stated goals.  

9.  Data Strategy

Another critical component of a healthy business poised for greater success is your underlying data structure.  For this blog we are focused more on customer company and contact data to drive better lead generation and conversions vs.traditional IT data.  So once you’ve redefined your target audience and ICP, explored companies and contacts that look like your best customers (aka look-a-like modelling) and other data fields that may improve sales and marketing conversion rates you may wish to review your data sources.  Are you still using the same “house list” of customers from your newsletter 10 years ago?  Are there key data elements that might help you, but you are unsure how to access or improve accuracy?  Data is omnipresent and far more accessible and affordable now.  


10. Technology Stack

Finally, if you postponed implementing that new accounting or Customer Relationship Management (CRM), accounting or other system, or are still passing paper and reentering the same data, or on Windows XP – now is a good time to liberate yourself.  Perhaps now is the time to at least review and evaluate, and possibly even implement it – with less business disruption.  It may also be a prudent tie to review workflows to squeeze out sales productivity – even if you’re using the same old systems.  Staff reductions mandate making remaining staff as productive as possible. And while spending is always challenging, and acutely so now, these efforts usually pay for themselves through greater efficiency, cost savings, or profitable growth.


Want a guide to help you along the path?