When we begin to see a positive turn in the COVID-19 pandemic, the No. 1 responsibility for business leaders will be to prepare a game plan towards full recovery. But who believes the ground rules will remain the same? Or that the marketplaces we’ve served won’t have shifted?
We’re going to need to quickly, but rigorously, assess our current relevance to our customers, understand our competitive exposures, and re-tool our offerings and go-to-market strategies to get back on track, and capture new ground, in a landscape rich with potential new opportunities for our businesses, employees and communities.
Avoiding random acts of recovery will take some upfront work to inform our strategies and align our actions. Identifying what’s changed, and what’s moving right now is the key to building the right, well-informed strategy that will lead to the most effective and efficient go-to-market tactics for your COVID-19 recovery success.
While the US economy was softening at the beginning of 2020 (ITR Economics), the slowing was moderate and forecast to last only a few quarters. Now, most companies have been running in a rapid response mode, working to stay afloat amid unprecedented and dramatic requirements for social distancing and the resulting impact on nearly every business and consumer behavior. Though, some good news: As we near the bottom, experience from prior dramatic economic recessions suggests we won’t stay there long.
Most top-selling business books focus on operational excellence or organizational health — two very important areas for a company’s success. Yet few have accounted for tectonic shifts in the global economy such as what we currently experiencing. Given that, how can we properly assess and align our businesses to this new reality, and maximize our potential for full recovery and more?
For certain, we will need an approach that employs a full market-based assessment – including research about our competitors, customers and our own company – to understand how things are changing, and will continue to change. We need to revisit the markets and segments that mean the most to us — prioritizing some, and letting go of others. We also need to reconsider alternative routes to market (since many new pandemic-powered buying habits, borne of ingenuity, may persist beyond the crisis). And perhaps, we may need to let go of methods that are no longer attractive. Our offerings need to be tuned or overhauled to align with the new requirements of who we’re serving. And as a result, our entire story – who we are, what we do, how we’re different – will need a fresh coat of paint, or an entire makeover. With all of this, we can execute the most efficient and effective tactical programs — ones that are properly resourced, supported, and held accountable to our well-defined goals.
This approach is based on the research-substantiated framework my partner and I published in our book The Growth Gears™ in 2016 that became an Amazon #1 Best Seller. It is used by several major university business schools as a text. In its fourth printing, you can find The Growth Gears in Kindle, hardcover or audiobook formats at Amazon and other outlets. All royalties we receive in 2020 will be donated to the American Red Cross.
INSIGHT – The most important driver to the success of our recovery planning is the insight we pull from our changing marketplace. Here’s our checklist:
STRATEGY – Our strategy checklist is critical. It lays the groundwork for how you’ll execute. It’s where you put our market insights to work.
EXECUTION – Aligned with our STRATEGY, execution is where we get things done. But we have to make sure we have the right resources and go-to-market strategy in place.
A terrific book that pulls the sales elements into this planning framework is called “Stop Random Acts of Marketing” written by Karen Hayward, and a top seller on Amazon. There you’ll find additional tools for aligning your sales and marketing to take your further and faster in the coming recovery cycle we’re all looking forward to tackling.