As America’s economic engine continues its recovery from its pandemic-imposed slumber, businesses must adjust to a new way of selling in the “next normal.” This means, unfortunately, that all of the work and planning you previously put into your go-to-market strategy, and 2020 business plan, needs to be revisited – and revised – on the fly.
Though some of your original insights may be salvageable, it is likely that the changed world means big changes for what you offer, how you offer it – and whether the market will respond.
If you were with me a few months ago, we previously talked about a concept called a “Blue Ocean Strategy” – a way to navigate your business from the “red ocean” tumult of uncertainty, and into the shimmering sparkle of “blue ocean” business success.
Fortunately for us, those lessons can be quite applicable to the churning waters created by the current pandemic – so, if you’ve not read my previous blog, now would be a good time to click here.
However, it’s true that the usual iteration strategy may not move as quickly as needed in order to stake your claim on a corner of a changed marketplace. So, how can you accelerate your Blue Ocean strategy, using the Chief Outsiders’ three Growth Gears – Insights, Strategy, and Execution – to be ready for what the market brings to bear?1. Connect With Your Customers
Silence is an unacceptable strategy right now. But, it takes a nuanced approach to customer contact to ensure you are striking the right tone. Consider these three rules to connecting with your customers:
As you conduct your customer outreach activity, you’ll begin to gain a pretty clear picture of their current reality – not only what they are struggling with, and how they are tweaking their offering, but also what their appetite is for working with vendors.
This is a good time for you to gain a greater understanding of which customers represent YOUR best prospects for recovery. Using the VIP customer matrix from the book “The Growth Gears,” by my colleagues Pete Hayes and Art Saxby, go through and analyze the source of your profitability – computing how long it took to get those profits; who your strongest buyers have been; what products are selling the fastest; and more. Which services are fastest growing? Which types of customers have been the most consistent during the current crisis?
With a good sense of your customer’s pain, and where your strongest opportunities for profits may lie, now’s the time to get a real, true, and current gauge of the marketplace – where it’s been, and most importantly, where it’s going.
When working with clients, I rely on a variety of “futurists” – economic analysts who have a keen sense of projecting where trends are moving, in the broader marketplace and within verticals.
One that has caught my particular attention is the report by the Board of Innovation called the “Low-Touch Economy” – a reference “the way businesses across the globe have been forced to operate in order to succeed as a result of COVID-19,” according to the BOI.
Among the BOI’s observations:
Those of who who have read my previous blogs know that I am a fan of the trend data provided by ITR Economics – which offers a free trial of its trends report. Whether you locate trends in your market through ITR’s reportage, or via other reputable sites like McKinsey, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Forbes, be sure you analyze where the best opportunities exist for your segment, both on a quarterly basis and on the longer horizon.
This is the most important step in the process. Remember at the beginning of this blog, we discussed the importance of being nimble and innovating quickly in order to succeed in the next normal. Armed with the insights in the first three steps, you may now understand where your business must evolve in order to survive and thrive. In particular, how you can innovate to produce offerings that not only resonate with your VIP customers, but possibly open up possibilities with a non-buyer.
Consider as an example an engineering company with design, build, and maintenance capabilities. Though your strengths may have previously been in the production of a specific bricks-and-mortar deliverable, you may find today that your engineering skills, on a consultative basis, may have a value as a standalone offering.
How can you go through your own “Blue Ocean” evolution with what it is that you offer? Consider the above example and apply it to your own business model. The Six Paths Framework in the Blue Ocean Strategy book can help you get this process started.
There is an old Greek word called Kairos – in ancient, Biblical terms, it talks about finding the opportunity moment to make a sudden change.
COVID-19, for all of us, has given us our Kairos moment – our chance to turn away, make a sudden change, and evaluate our new future. Before we evolve from this point in time, it’s important for you to evaluate what the impact has been on your reality, reflect on what you’ve been doing and where you’re going, and take accountability for how you will imagine your new future.
Now is the time to discuss with all of the people in your circle – customers, employees, your board, and the like – and determine who owns the pieces of your future. Each of these people has a role in turning away from the past, and forming the new future.
You may discover that, in the dark clouds of COVID lie a silver lining – a chance to reset, reboot, and change some bad habits that were festering in the background. You may have held back on a major shift due to the political atmosphere, or due to fear. Now is the time to hit the reset button and do things differently.
This is your moment to shine – to accelerate your plan for the future, and to confidently innovate through insights. If I can be of any assistance to you at this seminal moment in your company’s history, please reach out.