Never in our wildest imagination, any one of us would have ever thought about the world order getting stalled due to a virus. And now that we are in midst of an unprecedented crisis, what is mankind going to do about it? – Sit back and whine? Well, for the indomitable spirit that we have…that possibility seems totally distant to me. I don’t have even an iota of doubt on our grand collective return to normalcy, recovery, and revival.
The prosperity of our future depends a lot on economic stability and progress. It is therefore imperative that businesses across the world do the math right now to figure out how to increase profitability in such volatile, unprecedented times, apart from just cutting costs.
However, to do this math correctly, we would need plenty of leaders to emerge and take calculated risks. In a VUCA world, leaders could be the catalyst to build the agile organizations they have always imagined. Perhaps, the “Next Normal” future may require each one of us to step up and assume the newer roles.
Industries like travel, hospitality, manufacturing, entertainment have suffered a lot due to the pandemic, and strategists need to urgently figure out means that will be like an aid to these industries. Global supply chains need to be built against any such shocks in the future and at the same time, manpower and job security related issues need to be tackled.
Lastly but most importantly, our customers. Customers are the primary stakeholders for the sustenance of any business. It is therefore important that we take all possible care of our internal & external customers during such difficult times when they too are faced with woes like high spending, low demand, and profitability.
All through my sales & marketing professional career, I have always kept the 4Cs (Capability, Customer, Channel, Competitor) model on top of my planning charts. It offers the strategic outlook and guidance on the factors that are required for the success of the business and attaining the objectives such as higher sales of the products offered, elevated profits, competitive advantage, and enhanced brand value.
So, while the governments and people across the globe join hands to curb and eliminate one of the biggest and most unprecedented challenges of our lifetime, it is time for MarCom professionals like us to remind ourselves of 4C model and pick up the straws to build a new collective future for the world. Marketing will need to proactively engage & play a more important role to support and enable frontline sales. It’s important for Marketing teams across the world to help present capabilities to clients in a better way with the sales teams.
Here are a few tips on how we as New-Age Marketers can adapt to build a stronger and more resilient business for the times ahead:
- Build connections: Remember that the sales pipeline continues to be the most important focus. Customer intimacy | Increased customer-facing time is important. Utilise the slowdown time to build connections and reach out to newer people and businesses. You never know when someone closer to you needs your services and solutions to help their businesses. Develop a pool of leads and prospective clients that you would like to work with.
- Listen to your customers & anticipate their needs: Listening always helps! If you look carefully at your customers and if you gather enough insights around their businesses, you will be able to better understand their needs, which in turn will help you to tailor your service offerings in a better way. Engage with the clients the way they want to be engaged. For instance: Data collated from apps like Aarogya Setu, are a boom for healthcare customers, who need to know about patients in the vicinity or a cluster – such as common healthcare concerns, medical facilities, etc. In similar instances, Amazon and other e-retailers and Food Delivery giants, introduced “Contactless” deliveries, in wake of the pandemic. This forward-thinking, customer-centric approach, goes a long way in building their trust.
- Focus on Delivering Value: Always look at ways to augment your service offerings. Before recommending strategies to the customers, ask yourself – “what is in it for them?”, what is that one thing, which will make the customer pick your solution. The best way to demonstrate value is by offering solutions that provide a significant ROI. In the time of crisis, customers are specifically looking at efficient solutions at better costs and better operational viability. In such circumstances, you can help your customers by developing a sales pitch around your solutions, explaining how they can adapt the same and derive key benefits such as better costs.
- Leveraging Technology: Think Ahead, Think Automation, Think Technology. Yes, it is true that most of the world woes can be tackled by leveraging technology. Imagine new possibilities and turn to technology to make them happen. Let me share an example: Sopra Steria and Salesforce have jointly developed Q@Home, an online booking system that allows people to pre-book a time slot to visit a store. The application offers new ways of capturing customer data to enable better customer service and improve store operations. Q@Home is a cloud-based solution to handle shop, restaurant, or physical location entrance reservations electronically.
- Enhance Digital Presence: The pandemic has thrown life out of gear. Consumers across the globe have had to change their lifestyles significantly as social distancing, working from home, closed schools, and canceled travel/events disrupt daily routines. Remember, +66% of B2B sales roles are field based. Eventhough the facetime of buyer-seller gap is increasing, +90% of the buyers are willing to interact differently. As a result, digital media consumption has peaked. An interesting observation here is that while consumption/access to News, Business, Finance, Gaming, Healthcare has increased significantly, on the other hand, access to sites related to Travel, Sports, Airlines and Automobile has dropped (Source: ComScore). The point here is that Digital is here to stay! So, think of newer ways to connect with your clients, identify new collaboration tools and market your solutions effectively to your customers. Also, this disruption in media consumption opens up a huge scope of business opportunity for industries like Online Education, Online – Pharmacy, Tele- Medicine, and Entertainment. As marketers, the onus is on us to leverage such growth opportunities for our customers.
- Be creative and flexible: With all the action moving to the web and online world, you need to customise your pitches to suit the virtual world. Consider using a mix of content, creatives and infographics to explain your points. Don’t forget to showcase the people's power & team credentials – so that the customer feels confident about the association. Product demos, video tutorials, virtual tours, and dedicated helplines are some options which you could explore to beef-up your business solution offerings. You need to be flexible with the money, work out an easy project fee plan that is in line with your customer’s budget and expectations. While the customers too are distracted, remember we are all in it together and continue to remind yourself on how do I bring value to help customers? Engage with the clients the way they want to be engaged.
- Invest in your teams and keep them motivated: The biggest weapon in your arsenal is your team. Your people understand the business thoroughly and know exactly what and how to market. Connect with them regularly and ensure their holistic well-being in such difficult times. Make them feel valued and they for sure will return the goodwill.
- Keep Calm & Stay Focused: “A good crisis should never be wasted”. Being the spiritual person I am, I firmly believe in Karmic forces and that one must stay focused on our jobs, without getting perplexed by the outside environment. Of course, we need to keep a close watch and formulate our approach, and for that we need to think with a calm mind.
To summarize, it is all about hitting the right cord with your customers and motivating the team on the way.