by Thomas B. Cross – Executive Director Pandemic Technology Alliance
This is a simple 5-step process to re-open your business in the face of global events. But wait ! Even before you read one more word, only state and city governments can allow businesses to re-open so check with them for guidance.
In the meantime, you can take action now to post something about what your company can do for your customers, offer a seriously good call-to-action, reach out one or many of them, respond quickly and give them guidance and help during this time in history. This will help you remember that now and every day you need to take action.
Meanwhile back in your home office here are the 5 steps: Re-Action, Re-Think, Re-Group, Re-Build and Re-Bound. Now is the time to do Re-Action by your entire business as business will never-ever be the same. There are many historical precedents to this including the invasion of France in 1940 which lasted four long years. Meanwhile, Re-Action is not about reacting but what you should actually be doing to re-open your business. Depending on your business, take action to accelerate all your efforts, compressing the remainder of the year into the next two months. That is, throw out your marketing, sales, product and other plans and start over. Re-Action is all about what you are doing when you are reading this right now. Why now, the answer is that customers have the time now. Think of it, most customers have more time, maybe a lot more time, as they are not commuting to consider new solutions, making new plans, and preparing for their own new re-opening. Re-action is also taking action now to be really close to your customers. Some are doing daily webinars, daily live newscasts, daily customer surveys, expanding their marcom and social media effort and most importantly daily personal contact with key customers. Contact with customers is never-more paramount because they are also going through this re-action phase and if you are not with them now, then you won’t be with them when they’re-open for business.
You are also Re-Think everything. Not what will business be like at the grand re-opening but what could it be like in six months, a year or more. You have the opportunity to be “completely different” than you ever have. You don’t have to be what you are now, be the provider customers really want you to be. Consider the new “sani-society” where personal safety is not just important it’s a matter of life-or-death. Does a virus-forever-free product, solution, customer interaction, business model and strategy come to mind? You don’t have time to answer all the questions because you are also taking accelerated re-action efforts. It is also time to really understand your competition, as “Hannibal knew his enemy. As Polybius wrote in around 218 B.C., Hannibal understood that nothing is “more essential to a general than the knowledge of his opponent’s principles and character.”(1)
Re-group means who is doing what now and who will do it at the re-opening and beyond. It is doubtful that any group, team, at any low to C-level will be the same. As you are taking the time to re-action your customers, step back and see what people, processes, products and plans can be eliminated completely and new ways to be much better. Moving people out of their job description means giving them a chance to take a fresh look at what they are doing now to not just improve but accelerate business efforts. One group director rotates his team leaders every six months to other positions saying, “if you want my job, you will have to know and do other people’s jobs in this group as well.”
Re-building takes place after the re-opening. Re-build takes the new ideas, product and solutions into “beta” with customers who you connected with during the re-action phase. There are far too many examples of communications, healthcare, transportation, hospitality and others to address them here. Just watch the news and you will see amazing ideas emerge. Take action to get these products ready now for the re-opening as existing and new customers are looking for new ways themselves to do business. Re-building is also the new ways you provide thought leadership and marketing with your customers. As a fan of role-based marketing, you can take the customer research you did in the re-action phase and put this knowledge to work in developing new customer “personas” to build new content, social media, marcom and other efforts.
Re-bound is not a panacea either. You have already seen a few solutions scale off the charts and found themselves in lawsuits, governmental investigations, customer crises and more. This is not without precedence as over the past decade you have seen Congressional hearings on social media, privacy, antitrust and other issues. These issues will not go away and be prepared to repeat the re-action phase again should that come looking for you. Re-bound reminds you to scale carefully, engage customers constantly and be societal enlightened to new challenges ahead.
Bottom-line – there is not going to be a “new normal” as whatever we thought of as normal is gone. No one knows what is going to happen with the “rolling” re-opening of business or “re-lapse” that is also predicted. However, if you do nothing then you can only expect life and business to be much worse. I hope these five-steps help you in taking action now and riding the horse to the new sunset.
Footnote: Historical reference – Unlike during the invasion of France, Belgium and so many other countries where tens of millions actually lost both their homes and lives, we are fortunate albeit seeming more like prison to still have places to live in. Churchill along with many others saved the world by taking action every day for five years. In addition, here are some thoughts via Fast Company on the “Butterfly Effect” on society coming from the pandemic.
(1) Excerpt From Masters of Command by Barry Strauss