Preparing for the “New Normal”
The current covid-19 pandemic has forced the world into changing habits and fast. Remote work (or WFH – Work from Home) is only one thing that is becoming a habit that will stay with us for a long time. Other aspects are eLearning and eConferences, among others.
Businesses all over the world are forced to “go digital” immediately if they want to survive. From eCommerce to sell physical products to transitioning training and education to online platforms, everyone is scrambling to get it done as fast as they can.
While this has been a long time coming, the pace at which it is done combined with the panic of losing business and income lead to some very unwelcome phenomena:
- Strategy is abandoned
- Digital Transformation is confused with Virtual meetings and remote work
- Communication, Marketing and Conferences are all but neglected
Let’s start with Strategy
The correct way to do anything is Strategy (high level thinking) first, then tactics (action plan) and then execution.
Even before the current pandemic it wasn’t easy to explain to CEOs why they need to pause and think before they act, but now there seems to be a legit cause – if we don’t switch to digital immediately we will lose the business. So we’re seeing too many “act first, think later” activities.
Going digital can be done fast, but it must be preceded by strategy. A small thing such as selecting the wrong digital platform to use for your offering can be the make or break of your business. Then there is the matter of digital literacy – learning to utilize a variety of (the right) digital tools in the right way and timing by the right people – is the key to make this whole thing work.
If you pay for a platform, which may not be exactly what you need, and then you let your employees use it with little to no training – you are wasting your money and time.
This is why research and planning and thought must go into the process of:
- Platform and tool selection
This is not done in one day, but it also doesn’t have to take months!
Moving your meetings to Zoom does not constitute Digital Transformation
Having your employees work from home and hold meetings on Zoom does not mean you’ve transformed your business into a digital-ready business.
Digital transformation is first and foremost about a mindset and paradigm shift, which manifests differently for each business, depending on the offering and on the people.
Just as mentioned above, this too, starts with a strategy and anchored in research. The current situation has forced many business owners and managers to have their employees working remotely, communicating by email and video calls, but they still believe it is a temporary situation and that this is all that’s needed to keep the business going.
To truly transform the business and make it digital-ready for the future (not just the near future but the more remote future as well), business owners and managers must accept the, much as we hate this term, “new normal”.
Once again, this means researching and understanding how you can offer your services and products to the world but in a virtual or digital format. If you can’t, you need to figure out how to change them. Flexibility and the adaptability are key.
The same goes to understanding the human factor of your business, starting with your employees (who they are, what they are comfortable with, what they know and what they need to be trained in) and ending with your customers (what they are used to and how you can help them adapt to the new normal as well).
If you read this far you probably understand that the same strategic process described above, applies here as well.
Think first, act later and get things done right = keep your business running and even increase revenues!
Digital communication is not about social media. Also, Your conference wasn’t canceled – it went virtual!
One of the business aspects that is always left behind is marketing and communication, and that includes your conference and events strategy (there’s the S word again).
Even before the coronavirus sent everyone to shelter in place, communication and marketing were usually left to last minute, offhand and end of budget activities.
Now, many business are suddenly realizing that all those years of neglecting their brand awareness, their online visibility and their ability to digitally connect with partners and customers, are coming back to haunt them.
This is not the time to be silent. On the contrary, you need to very quickly make a lot of (relevant and high quality) “noise” to rise above the cacophony of voices out there.
Even businesses that invested in broad MarCom (Marketing Communication) activities are feeling the pressure now, because their amazing print materials, business cards and innovative booth designs that they took to conferences, are all stored away in boxes with no one to enjoy them.
Now, marketing and communication require strategy too but at least here, there are quite a few “quick and dirty” fixes to get you up and running while you plan and build your presence going forward.
When it comes to events and conferences, many businesses (in fact most businesses we have encountered all over the world in the past 10 years) don’t even realize you need a special strategy for that and a specific action plan for each event, if you want to actually make the most of your budget. We’re used to seeing last minute decisions about whether or not join or sponsor, whether or not to exhibit or go as a guest/visitor and no action plan at all with regards to how to get leads and how and when to communicate about it online.
This too, has changed very abruptly now with most of the world’s major and biggest conferences quickly going digital. This transition has left most of the CEOs we have been communicating with baffled, as other than joining the conference and maybe watching the talks on zoom, they have no idea how or even if they can use the conference to generate leads and business.
But the truth is, that it’s very simple to create a digital/virtual action plan for any conference. It will undoubtedly be cheaper than going to the actual event and has the potential to yield at least the same amount of business and leads, if not more, than had you physically attended. From reaching out to individual speakers, through email campaigns to creating a consistent publication plan around the event, there are so many things that can easily and quickly be done to gain exposure for your business and build your thought leadership while communicating with Key Opinion Leaders and potential customers.
The bottom line – you need to accept the new normal and make the shift
The current situation in the world is, hopefully, temporary. But it brought us many opportunities to look in the mirror, take stock of our business and faults and prepare for the future.
Even if office work and physical conferences return, they will be changed. And who’s to say the world will not be plunged into chaos again for one reason or another in the future?
Now is the perfect opportunity to make the changes that you should have started making a long time ago.