By Elliot Maher, co-founder, Rising Tyde
Once we emerge from this unprecedented time, what will resonate with customers who are facing so much uncertainty and life changing factors? What will be the new form of business connection?
We might just about remember how we used to do things. In the good old days of early web and app development, the mantra was, “if you build it, they will come”. New brands, platforms and apps became famous overnight by simply being first to market.
Once everyone piled in and the web became overcrowded, the mantra then shifted to “connect, and they will come”. Social media became the catalyst for fostering a one-on-one connection with consumers and their favourite brands and products. This evolution allowed for a richer and more loyal customer base, resulting in a personalised, data-driven approach to both the product experience and the marketing messaging.
That now needs to evolve yet again to meet the needs of a dramatically shifted customer landscape thanks to multiple influences: spending behaviour, mindset, health and more than likely, a change in employment and financial situations.
Asking the right questions to unlock the power of the collective
While no one can be really certain about what a ‘new normal’ will look like, the good thing is, if you’re a business leader, you can be in control of these three crucial factors:
- Knowing who your customers are.
- Knowing the problems you solve for them.
- Knowing you can deliver a solution that has real value.
If the coronavirus crisis has shaken your confidence in those three areas, now is the time to find the answers, because customer relationships will need to deepen, different needs will arise, and continual care and connection will be more important than ever.
Once you have them, how can you be ready to move effectively and quickly?
Simply, businesses need to act, more than ever, like a collective. Rather than seeing themselves as a typical model type – B2B, B2C, B2B2C, etcetera – businesses should now see themselves as part of a network. An integrated ecosystem of business partners — from employees, suppliers, associates and partners to third party agencies — all working as a collective to meet your different customers’ needs.
Here’s how you can do this:
- Reassess the problem you solve. During the Covid-19 crisis, priorities have changed and what was a problem before may be heightened, or lowered afterwards. Really evaluate your eventual customers perspective and ascertain their real need. Do you still need to solve the original problem, or has that morphed?
- Assess your value ecosystem in its entirety. Understand where you sit in the value chain from source, to point of eventual purchase. Who else is in that chain, and how can you help each other be more customer-centric? If one partner fails, it may mean you all do.
- Unlock different ways of finding answers. Depending on how close to the customer you are and what access you have to them, will have an impact on your knowledge on point two. This is where the power of the collective really kicks in. Communication between the value ecosystem of your product or service can help the flow of knowledge. In industries this could be B2B2C firms talking to the B2C firms, and in large businesses this could be sales talking more to product or marketing and sharing insights.
- Don’t be afraid of outside help. Often a fresh set of eyes can help you see a challenge differently. Even writing a brief of what you think needs addressing forces you to really dial in on the problem and what evidence you have to support it.
Many are arguably already doing this, but what we have seen in this period is a need to embrace this to a far greater extent. This means lowering the current barriers of thinking and process, and putting away the office politics. The businesses who can elevate and act as a true collective will win.
Uniting to reinvent and succeed
In the startup space, founders are no strangers to failing fast and pivoting even faster. The coronavirus pandemic for many has meant reviewing operations and leaning more heavily on supply chain and logistics networks as partners and joint problem solvers. For example, after five years in business, online fashion brand Rosie On Fire has been able to leverage its Malaysian-based supply-chain to create a new ‘SuperCleen’ brand offering protective gear for corporates, as well as overhauling its product and e-commerce offering to launch a dedicated website selling lockdown pamper packages.
Meanwhile, delivery network Gophr usually transports goods, scooters and large food orders for the likes of Deliveroo and Airbnb. With their B2B customer base shrinking in the wake of Covid-19, the company has partially pivoted to delivering pharmaceutical products, bio-samples and test kits for labs, pharmacies and medical companies, using their convoy of delivery workers.
In the beleaguered hospitality sector, restaurant chain Leon launched its #FeedNHS campaign on JustGiving in March to raise £1 million to supply 6,000 half-price meals to London-based NHS staff. Since then, the initiative has already hit its target, and even attracted support from other restaurants including Wasabi, Tortilla, Pizza Pilgrims, Franco Manca, Tossed and Abokado. Leon has put competitive rivalries aside to embrace the power of an industry collective to focus on the greater good.
And perhaps most impressively, pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have joined forces to work on a Covid-19 vaccine, pooling their patented science and technologies to have a solution ready to test in the second half of this year. The companies have set up a Joint Collaboration Task Force to secure resources from both companies to accelerate development of the vaccine.
We believe adoption of a collective way of working and thinking is in its infancy, from organisational structure through to customer connection. At Rising Tyde, we have believed in this model for some time now and have seen it work. We believe in identifying problems with clients, through deep diving on the business and customer challenges, and then curating a specific team from our network of market leading specialists.
As we have seen, the winners in this crisis will be the ones who can leverage their ecosystem the quickest. It will be about uniting business and taking a collective view to problem solving and action, with strong leadership principles at the heart.