Recently, Accenture published an article entitled Outmaneuver uncertainty: Navigating the human and business impact of Covid-19 in which it outlined five ways businesses could turn this challenge into change and thrive in the new world.
We took these suggestions and customized them with our extensive chamber experience to help you guide your chamber and your members to new successes as well.
But first, let’s talk about change.
Pivoting Is the New “Synergy”
Many business gurus have spent the last several weeks talking about the importance of pivoting for companies.
The idea behind the pivot is to help re-energize your business and align it in stronger ways with what customers and the market desire.
But the word pivot is this year’s version of “synergy.” It’s overused and under-defined. People understand there is a need to do something to help their businesses. And while they may give lip service to the “pivot” and say that they’re planning on doing such, they may not actually know what that means or how to go about doing it.
As a chamber, you’re in an ideal position to help them understand the concepts and introduce them to the types of people who can help; As Accenture wrote in the article (you can help), “Turn massive challenges into meaningful change.”
Business Lessons from the Pandemic
You’ll hear a lot of people reference the “new normal.”
But more than not this pandemic has taught us that change is the “new normal” and there really isn’t any such thing as a new way that business will settle into. We will likely be in flux for two to three years possibly much longer.
So instead of helping your members adapt to a “new normal,” help them see the value in becoming agile and staying that way.
For the next several years (at least) the businesses that will thrive will be the ones that understand we cannot continue to do the things the way we used to and we shouldn’t get attached to a new way of doing things either. Instead, your chamber and your business members should constantly be evolving with the market and its needs. From going with more virtual events to getting creative with event venue ideas during COVID, your chamber should lead the way.
While many experts have been making these types of suggestions for the past several years, like using social media as an informal research and development tool that would help you meet customers needs and provide solutions, we are finally at the point where no business can afford to settle down into a cozy “new normal.”
Cozy is a word that is no longer available to the business community for those who want to weather this storm.
Delivering the Difficult Message
As a catalyst for turning challenge into change, your chamber will be delivering a difficult message.
If you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction or television shows, you can envision your chamber–and your role in the chamber–as being the person who says, “we can’t stay here.” It’s an uncomfortable message as most of us prefer to cling to what we know.
But if there’s one thing this pandemic has shown us it’s that “business as usual” is a thing of the past.
Drop the language of a “new normal” and begin talking about the future and possibilities. Speak about agility and change as you would profit and increased revenue.
These words should become our rallying cry, not adapting to the “new normal.” Settling in is not what successful businesses should be doing.
In order for your businesses to see change as a positive–after all, most of us feel incredibly uncomfortable with change–you will need to vary your message. Here are a couple of ways to do that. Encourage them to:
Idea 1: Become the Business They Always Planned To Become
I’ve had a lot of business owners tell me they simply don’t have time for social media, digital marketing, and blogging.
While you could argue that those things are simply not a priority in their business and that’s why they can’t find the time, some businesses have a lot more time on their hands now.
You likely have members who intended at some point in their business to get more involved in social media, blogging, podcasting, digital marketing, asking for reviews and testimonials, or maybe even course creation. Some of these things could have served as revenue generators for them. But they put them off.
Now they have the time but they likely still lack the knowledge necessary on how to do these things effectively for their business.
The chamber can help with that. Creating courses, videos, Zoom instructionals, and other ways for people to take advantage of learning new skills is a good way for the chamber to meet this need and provide an invaluable service to businesses.
Sure, there is no lack of resources online for learning. But if your community business people turn to online videos and other ways of learning, they have to first screen them and decide whether the videos are worth the time and effort. With the chamber, they know they’re dealing with a reputable organization that is going to provide top-notch resources.
Idea 2: Examine Changing Customer Preferences and Needs
The business community isn’t going to recover doing things the way they’ve always been done. Customer’s needs and preferences are changing based on the past several months. People have become conditioned to certain ways of doing things and it may take them a while–if ever–for them to return to how they did it before.
In the meantime, businesses should be looking for ways to meet those needs and adjust their practices to customer preferences.
The chamber should stress ways in which these businesses can learn more about the evolving desires of their customers through social media listening, polling, and watching the competition.
And it’s not just what we do at this moment that matters.
As Accenture wrote in their article, “Once the immediate threat of the virus has passed, companies will need to consider the impact of these changes on the way we design, communicate, build and run the experiences that people need and want.”
Chambers will be doing this too by reexamining events both in how they’re held and which events continue. You may realize that after the virus is over your members’ interests have changed.
You will need to reevaluate your offerings based on their needs and the new directions of their businesses.
Idea 3: Adapting to New Workforce Opportunities
The way people now work is different than it was at the beginning of 2020. It will likely continue to evolve.
Not only are many people working from home who never did before, but certain skills are also more highly prized and new skills are quickly commanding even greater attention. New opportunities are emerging.
The chamber is in an ideal position to partner with organizations and individuals to help match the needs and specialties that are growing in demand. This will help people looking for work or telecommuting employees find new positions or become more desired in the workforce for greater opportunities and will help make your community/workforce more resilient.
Idea 4: Making the Right Introductions
Many businesses have not only changed how employees work but they also have adopted (or thought of adopting) the necessary tools to get the job done. Some companies may need to increase their investment in technology tools or technology infrastructure, for instance.
The chamber could be in an ideal position to make these introductions thus benefitting the companies in need and those looking to increase their customer base.
These needs could also create a desire among companies that sell technology to consider a higher investment or partnership with the chamber. Now might be an ideal time to approach tech companies and others filling a growing demand for a sponsorship or to “host” your virtual events/meetings.
It’s easy to get very concerned about today’s business climate. We no doubt are struggling and may continue to struggle for several years until we all find our stride again.
But in the meantime, the chamber is in a strong position to make introductions, to help provide professional development, to work with educational organizations to help meet the new demands, and to encourage agile thinking and movement by member businesses.
The solution here is not to settle into a “new normal” but to continue to read the markets and needs of the customer and adapt to their desires providing solutions for them. With any luck, we will never return to a “new normal.” Instead, we will all thrive with customer-driven solutions that ensure greater success because they are more tightly aligned with client needs.