How to Accelerate Recovery Post-COVID-19
The current state of play
Many are speculating that the UK’s post-COVID-19 recovery will be driven by the nation’s agile technology companies and founders.
There is evidence of this in within the world of start-ups and scale-ups, as shown by Beauhurst (a searchable database of the UK’s high-growth companies), who track data on businesses that fall into those start-up and scale-up categories and provide weekly reports on the impacts of COVID-19. This offers a window into the state of play, showing the appetite of investors for UK private companies as an asset class.
Not only is this a good barometer of the health of the start-up and scale-up ecosystem, but it’s also a good place to make some educated guesses on how the rest of the economy is fairing, too. And sure enough, those investing in new approaches and using technology to improve customer experiences are coming out on top.
Out of the businesses that have been able to gain investment during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there were some clear winners, according to Beauhurst. These were businesses that had a significant technology component to their business offering. Many may not see themselves as an ‘agile technology company,’ but it is possible for any business to incorporate the use of technology, design and data within their business model. This approach can be applied to any sector, even those that tend to be typically seen as slow adopters of technology, such as education (Edtech), construction (Proptech) and healthcare. All businesses have the opportunity to look and reflect on how they operate and communicate across all areas to review where improvements can be implemented.
Many businesses are aware they need to adapt but aren’t sure how to do so. It’s not merely about how a company integrates technology to adapt to the changing market, it’s also about how you communicate with people – both your customers and your staff.
Right now, there are a number of key shared challenges facing many businesses, including:
- How can we continue to acquire customers?
- Can we still keep our pre-COVID-19 visibility in the market?
- How can we keep our team focused on the future vision now that it is shifting?
Below, you’ll find some key ideas in response to each of these challenges.
How can we continue to acquire customers?
The first question you need to ask yourself is: do you understand your customers well enough to be able to communicate with and target new customers accurately and effectively? Most businesses will say yes, but what they actually mean is no! Many don’t understand how to find out what their customers genuinely want and think, and most businesses approach their customer knowledge as a guess. Organisations need to move from a ‘we think’ to a ‘we know’.
How do we accelerate the discovery of these customer insights?
- Online Surveys: One of the quickest and simplest ways of gaining customer insights, is by conducting an online survey and sending this out to customers – these can be easily pulled together using free services such as Google Forms, or paid-for services such as Typeform.
- Social Media: Social media listening, to monitor how a brand is being talked about and perceived across popular social networks, is useful for larger brands or those that have a heavy-use customer base on social media (such as a direct to consumer brand). There are tools and resources you can access, such as Brandwatch, which can help save time and effort from doing this manually.
- Competitor Analysis: It is important to do a regular competitor analysis and touchpoint audit, looking at how competitor brands are positioned, and you’ll quickly be able to map out a clearer picture of who is doing what and how effectively. Analysing sales data is key to getting a more accurate picture of who is buying from you, providing evidence on when and how they interact with your brand.
- Awareness of Market Trends: Being aware of market trends is essential when trying to acquire customers, however, this can be time-consuming. To quickly gain deeper insights into market trends there is the option of purchasing research from vendors such as Euromonitor, Mintel and BCC Research.
Can we still keep pre-COVID-19 visibility in the market?
The key to retaining visibility? Make a concerted effort to be visible!
Ensuring you position your brand correctly is fundamental – you can’t have a powerful marketing presence if you don’t look or act the part and talk to your audiences in a way that connects with them on a genuine emotional level. To create high cut through, brands need to set a strong golden thread that runs through their core – the brand strategy, identity and voice.
How do we accelerate this?
Reviewing your current brand against your customer personas is a strong starting point. You can then conduct competitor analysis, which will allow you to see if you have high standout and recall when compared to your competitors. You might need to clarify, edit or cement your vision, mission and values with your team to be able to ensure your brand strategy is perfectly aligned with where you are going as a business and to help to cater to what your customers want. Reviewing these aspects often highlights where a brand is not aligned with the changing customer or spaces that your brand now operates in. One way in which this can be remedied is by ensuring that the visual and verbal identity elements of your brand are aligned, enabling you to tell a strong message with clarity that is able to adapt across all channels and platforms.
If, after reviewing these areas, you conclude that you are 100% positioned correctly with a strong visual and verbal identity, then you can consider creating new compelling brand campaigns, or even repackage your offer.
How can we keep our team focused on the future vision?
A volatile market and furloughed teams have led to people being concerned about their future jobs and career development. For some, there has been a drain on motivation and productivity levels, for others a new way of working has improved their lives – but will it stay this way? It’s vital to keep teams engaged and to foster a great culture. It all comes down to communication, transparency and empathy, and a strong brand can play a huge role in doing this.
How can we accelerate culture through brand communications?
Look back to your values to realign yourselves on what you stand for. Use these as a base for an internal engagement plan, and communicate these out to staff through regular communications. Anyone who is going through a period of change needs to be reassured, so consulting and being transparent with your team ensures they feel part of the decision-making process and offers them some control. Paying close attention to staff opinions regarding any new company initiatives is important, and is quick and easy to test and gain insight into through internal polls and quick surveys. Brands must reinvigorate any internal communications with the right tone of voice and refreshed design layouts to clearly signal the new ‘you’.
Although the current recession will eventually pass, it will take an unspecified amount of time, so it’s vital that businesses evolve to face this new, constantly-changing situation. It requires brands to focus on adaptability and to be able to flex to the new demands of the market and customer to ensure survival. A key focus for those who want to make an actionable change should be around creative thinking and openness. Being open to changing your mindset around how things were done previously is key. By moving away from a cost or spend mentality and into an investment mentality, as well as setting a culture of ‘trying’, can often cause the biggest impact. Adapting can be done quickly and nimbly, but only if everyone is open to adapting in the first place.