Business leaders have been struggling with this question since the beginning of the pandemic. How many different predictions about the future of business have you heard since March 2020?
Looking back we can see clearly that the importance of being able to deliver products and services virtually has become vitally important. When you can't predict the future you better be able to ask the right questions to prepare for it. It starts right here and right now.
How do we balance what we did to survive the past year and a half with the opening up of restrictions on in person business?
Is everything going back to the way it was before?
How do we know what strategy will work if we go back into lockdowns regionally or globally?
Here are a few things that I am thinking about and organizing my businesses strategy around going forward:
- Building relationships strategically and continuously. If there was ever a time to have a powerful and connected network it was the last year. There is good news for you if you were good at building relationships pre-lockdown: those skills are omni-channel. Real networking skills work both on and offline. What is necessary going forward is making sure you are always 'present' where your customers are doing most of their buying. The research is settled: your customers are on #socialmedia. You must make sure your online network is as powerful and human as your offline one. There needs to be measurement and coaching on an ongoing basis to make sure this happens weekly.
- Become the trusted advisor on social. Building your network should be accompanied by incentive for people to be a part of it. Are you answering the questions that your clients and prospects are dealing with in their businesses? This is where you unleash the 'secret power' of your company: the technical experts. These are the people that research on buyer's shows us are viewed as the most trusted sources of information. You need to have your sales and marketing teams (or whatever you call them) become the enablement arm of your business to get original content created and shared by these respected professionals. For example, accounting firms need to stop sharing boring and 'canned' industry articles and start featuring their own, internal experts in the different areas of their practice. Videos and articles from your specialists in construction, small business, international trade and many other areas will cement your firm's position as the trusted advisor in your given market.
- Be different. Uncertainty tends to reveal character flaws in humans and organizations. Have you noticed an increase in the intensity of email marketing and advertising online? I bet you have. The companies that don't know how to get you to want to talk to them without interrupting and badgering you on social will continue to 'step on the gas' on that strategy and I don't think it is going to end well. You need to focus on looking like a human being on social, both individually and corporately. Your profiles should keep me from automatically dismissing you as 'another of those xxxxx' professionals. Your content shouldn't be about selling me your product or service, or telling me how awesome you are. Have you ever seen a website or ad that says they have the '2nd best service' or 'average product quality'?!? Instead, focus on showing prospective customers (and reassuring current ones) that your company is different by giving your entire team the encouragement to have a voice on social.
Everything above is part of what we call social selling. Our program is about doing it the right way, strategically and thoughtfully, to help buyers come towards you because of who and what you are about...as opposed to being driven away by rude and incessant interruptions.
That is what I am doing to create my path forward for myself and my clients. How about you and your company? What are your plans and/or thoughts about what I have shared above?
This type of thought process is the foundation for our work with clients. It all starts with a conversation. Let's talk.