2021 Busines Perspective
Who could have imagined the way 2020 would unfold? The speed in which Coronavirus erupted here and globally resulted in unprecedented disruption to the business landscape? Almost instantly, organizations were forced to change most of the ‘routine working norms’ because they were confronted with the challenge of either adapting or becoming irrelevant … or worse, to disappear completely.
At year’s end, most companies have accelerated decision making related to 1). technological advances and 2). new or alternative ways of working while collaborating with colleagues and customers in a more inclusive manner.
So, Where Are We?
Most businesses large and small are challenged operationally. But recent research surprisingly there is also unexpected positivity about the future. This sentiment is shared across industry and geography:
- Diversification – Most businesses considered some form of diversification – either establishing new income streams or changing their focus to alternative ways of delivering the same services. While many stopped or slowed major investments, others continued in profitable business tactics.
- Biz Confidence – Companies view the ‘new normal’ with a level of confidence. Business owners share a degree of positivity in their ‘situation’ and some anticipate they may benefit from it next year.
- Workforce Mgt. – Many companies have experienced recruitment freeze, yet others have seen an uplift in recruitment activity i.e.: shipping. So, in order to enhance organization efficiencies, a degree of structural “flattening” has or will occur… meaning removing excess bureaucracy should help balance appropriate labor deployment.
- Agile Working – The future of ‘working’ is somewhat cloudy. Some managers will support a more agile approach while others will practice ‘normal’ office environment and change nothing.
- Digitalization – Many organizations have accelerated their digital transformation and have diverted funds and resources there to facilitate more rapid change.
The most challenging future business environment may be the impact COVID-19 has on entrepreneurs and start-ups. Even though start-ups are buoyant, there’s a trickle of talent moving away from risky start-ups rather than positions where individuals gain a greater sense of security. The long-term impact from this virus is too early to gauge.
Suggestions: Embrace - Encourage These Practices
Prior to January 2020, mergers grew, and business acquisitions romped with a sense that the future was on track. Today Covid-19 has created the greatest business disruption of modern times. All businesses are grappling with operating in a changing world at an alarming rate.
Opportunities are also evolving. Companies have moved from office-based working to remote or flex working. Service development accelerated. Organizations raced to enable their employees to remain connected, while everyone shifted shopping habits to the internet almost overnight. The virus greatly tested the plans in place before Covid-19 struck; for a few, business operations were agile enough to meet the changes, but others realized how exposed and ill-prepared they were. Trends at year’s end see that organizations are learning to adapt to avoid future chaos and disruption.
The most obvious enabler has been accelerating investment in technology by blending strategy, focused efforts, resources, budget and digital ‘enabling’. The goal is to become as efficient as possible. The organization is that enabler. Back in January the degree of effort to ensure that people felt supported, understood, and engaged was consistently strong, yet over time, these efforts stalled. To survive, businesses must re-ignite support efforts to ensure that employees remain a powerful business enabler going forward.
In times of crisis, organizations have a unique opportunity to revamp their operating model and try new things. These shifts require buy-in from the top down through management ranks if culture and attitudes are going to change.
Employees want better and safer working conditions. So, businesses must review how they balance social distancing and maximize density of office space to keep their staff healthy. Some may implement more flexible working arrangements. By remaining positive, those who embrace the values of empathy, collaboration, honesty, and trust will emerge as positive role models for their organization.
The situation continues to evolve rapidly, with many cities and businesses re-introducing lockdown restrictions due to further virus spikes; this uncertainty makes it particularly hard for organizations to plan for the future. Review the predictions below:
- Fast-tracked Digital – Businesses are now more agile and flexible without impacting operational efficiency which enables this pace change to accelerate as they consider how their employees better serve their customers and clients, drive value from their supply chain and boost profitability.
- Re-Alignment – Efficiencies driven from utilizing a remote workforce is working. The employee experience will become more essential to companies as they seek to retain, develop, and acquire the skills and talent to satisfy this operating model.
- Leadership Change – Covid-19 has created unprecedented leadership challenges … for some a successful passage in leadership careers, for others less so. These successes and failures will bring a shift in the boardrooms of many companies and present opportunities for them to attract the services of those who’ve overcome Covid-19 challenges.
- Legislative Shifts – The e-commerce business uptick has already seen localized legislative changes implemented by government-imposed regulation of a commercial sector. It’s likely that Covid-19 will have far reaching implications for how organizations operate and the way in which they are legislated.
“Unprecedented” for sure yet the world continues to operate. What we remember about this time will be the resilience and tenacity of business. Taking a moment to reflect on 2020, will help ensure that if we face such a challenging environment again, business continuity plans can be dusted off, revisited and re-used.
Looking into a new year there is a level of optimism and anticipation. The business world is grateful for all it learned in 2020 and is optimistic that 2021 will emerge ready and capable to face life beyond the COVID-19.
HQZ Experts - www.hqzexperts.com
The CORONA-19 virus has brought lots of changes. But let’s consider the positive effects on how businesses have been forced to revise many processes as well as how their customers - you and us - have adapted. Will this new approach likely continue to evolve at an accelerated pace?
Adapting: Modify, Adjust to New Conditions, Transition
These are great definitions of our new norm. Almost overnight reconfigured business and personal practices have not only changed – they’ve rescued. Evolving out of necessity, companies and employees who are surviving, now employ a changing digital reality that’s surprisingly shifting long-lasting traditions.
Digital Services Approval
Although embracing digital services has been forced upon us, many businesses and almost all Americans are taking this approach - even some who never shopped online – have fully embraced doing so. A good many are not likely to return to their previous purchasing approach.
Fewer Events/More Incentives
There has been a universal SHUTDOWN of most major business events. Not to worry … companies and people with the right technology and motivation have simply shifted to online versions of “online meetings” which are readily available and likely free for the guests. Even though personal interaction is missing, participants still offer diverse content and new ideas while maintaining connection with their customers and supporters.
The ‘new normal’ continues to gain momentum but since humans highly value social interactions, events won’t disappear. Those that return to trade shows and conventions will need to work much harder to justify their existence, and many have already been replaced by virtual equivalents.
Remote working is finally here. Friends and colleagues, I’ve spoken with really enjoy the new norm. Research studies indicate that working at home has consistently grown by 173% since 2005. Given the imposed shutdown, this statistic is expected to increase even more.
Employers realize that their employees don’t need to be seen all day, every day. The new remote working has shown that it’s possible to carry on the business without employees in the office. Given the technology now being utilized, flexible working has become both viable and essential.
Likewise, responsible, productive employees don’t need to be ‘present’ nor do they want constant oversight. Welcome benefits from this ‘new normal’ methodology has created less commuting (fewer cars on the roads and less congestion), reduced energy in mega-offices (air conditioning/heating and lighting, security, etc.).
New Norm has ended wasteful, costly business practices. It’s forced creatives to be more creative and surprisingly, has resulted in rapidly executed, great work. We’ve seen what can be done with less, and reverting to the big budget, big team model is going to be harder to rekindle for companies and their employees down the road.
On the bright side, the last ten months has made honesty a core value in the workplace. Leaner and smarter has become the new reality … build upon this new perspective and think about the many new possibilities awaiting your business.
HQZ Experts - www.hqzexperts.com
As can be expected companies of all sizes are reevaluating their budgets. The universal option of choice is to eliminate non-business essential marketing spending, which is hardly a surprise since frequently when a real crisis arises, marketing budgets are first to go. And right now, we are experiencing a whopper slowdown!
Successful businesses now face holding onto their pocketbook while remaining relevant. The entire business dynamic has flipped and now being a ‘specialist’ is going to decline. Companies are now looking for cooperative teams to complete multiple tasks to deliver good work. Carried to the next level, this wrinkle pushes marketers to expand their own specialist skillset to broader, more general abilities. Below are things to consider as your career evolves.
Telling A Story
Interestingly, facts are all-well-and-good, but stories actually do the ‘selling’. Think about the last time charts and tables moved you to take some sort of action. Not so much. Research shows that stories are memorable because they trigger an emotion and quickly signal the ‘essence’ of the message. In fact, stories are about 22 times more memorable that a list of facts.
That is why marketers should learn ways of weaving compelling narratives that align with market sentiment, customer priority yet incorporate their brand message. If they do not yet know this, the art of storytelling is now a MUST; crafting engaging, authentic, and credible messaging that both engages and strengthens the intended audience loyalty.
Grasping Data Analytics
Increasingly heightened focus on value, compel marketers to learn how to use data to quickly measure campaign effectiveness. Data-driven insights will also help marketers understand customers better, make the right decisions, and course-correct when necessary.
Design – Go There It is Fun
Statistics reflect that the human brain processes images up to 60,000 times faster than words. Great designs generally draw the attention an ad campaign deserves. With all of the new online technology, the basics of design and the art of using powerful visual storytelling is easier than ever. With a little practice (and fun) adding basic design to your marketing skills portfolio.
Don’t Hide - Embrace Technology
Awareness of the technology used in successful marketing programs includes designing, executing, and measuring - from automation of processes to the customer’s experience. A successful marketer must include the skillset and knowledge then APPLY them to successfully achieve their objectives.
Industry Savvy Matters
Beyond the technical side as defined above, marketers must understand their industry - business, product(s), and customers. Technology marketers should know how to write a basic flyer themselves. And define content and channel strategies that optimize ROI. You gain this expertise when actively listening and learning from cross-functional teams, i.e. (subject matter experts, sales teams, and business leaders). The corny slogan “practice makes perfect” has never been more relevant. Pay attention, become a sponge, ask questions, observe those experts you trust and rely upon in your team then hit the GO button. Your first couple of attempts may be bumpy, but mistakes are not deadly. Everyone learns from their mistakes … and sometimes those lessons help you win big in the long run.
Budget Plans Not Optional
Wise marketers learn budgeting and strategic planning very quickly. Your amazing campaign may be the best thing since sliced bread … but if you have no budget to fund it, well then it was only a great idea. Do your homework on short and long-term costs from A to Z. Know from the beginning what your marketing program entails and ensure that the funding for making it all happen is at your disposal. If you are not interested in the finance side of things, at least bring a competent accounting or finance planner into your universe ... and learn from them!
Thinking about all of the skills you must possess just to handle your job today can be daunting. Well, it is. But your success in this new era depends upon disregarding previous norms where individual team members each brought a specific skillset to the party while contributing to the marketing mix. Seems those days are declining fast!
Business today has many New Norms over which we seem to have little control. You may not want to take a personal assessment of your own skills. But, given all the unfilled time we all find ourselves with use it wisely. Consider ways you can adapt and remain vital to your company. Expanding your skillset makes you more productive and absolutely more effective. Do It!
HQZ Experts - www.hqzexperts.com
Ever had someone write a negative review or article about your company? It doesn’t feel very good. Hope it never happens to you, but if it does, you gotta get proactive in a hurry. Deal with negative article head-on rather than take a “wait to see what happens” attitude. There is no other way.
Negative Search Result Contents Impact the Brand:
- Sales — Potential customers looking for information about your business will leave
- Business Partnerships — Existing or future business relationships could suffer
- Funding — Lenders may limit capital gain access or raise rates if they suspect your business is at risk
- Employee Retention — Employee turnover and hiring costs increase if your brand reputation tanks
- Market Capitalization — A company’s stock price may fall as investors flee for safer investments
Crisis Recovery Plans Explore/Define:
- Internal/external stakeholders
- Primary spokespeople for each communication channel
- Communication infrastructure and redundancies
- Decision-making chain of command
- Access to emergency funds
- Holding statements
- Contingency plans
Digital Marketing Boosts Brand Reputation
To fix your brand’s negative content following a crisis then recover … understand how your search engine is involved. For example, Google’s algorithms use hundreds of ranking signals to determine the most relevant web pages for each search query. One such signal is topical relevance.
- Through repetition, search engines then use topical relevance to draw connections between concepts (even if previously unrelated). So, Google may favor content about a corporate crisis if excessive articles recently published connect your brand with the event.
- One solution is paid content — sponsored posts and earned media such as PR — to generate positive articles about your brand. Starbucks recently used this strategy to shift their brand’s narrative from racial bias training to banning plastic straws.
Reputation Management with No SEO Fails
SEO is labor-intensive and costly, but reputation management doesn’t work without a search engine optimization component. Publishing great content is only part of the strategy; you also must apply SEO best practices to rebuild your search landscape.
Optimize Your Social Profile and Post Regularly
Social networks rank very well for branded search queries. To be effective Google must receive properly coded and ‘active’ signals. Your profiles should include contact information, addresses, as well as a description highlighting your company’s name. Link it back to your website’s homepage, blog page, and other trusted sites.
Promote Your Best Online Content
Determine which favorable company mentions you want ranked on Google’s first page, then share these articles with your social channels to increase visibility and build backlinks to them. When appropriate include your brand name in the article’s title to help improve rankings.
SEO and digital marketing are the drivers of effective reputation management. Taking a proactive approach to brand protection allows you to attract potential customers and stave off negative or damaging news.