Jun 2, 2020

Play dead or race ahead during a pandemic?

Play dead or race ahead during a pandemic?
BY Peggy Nordeen

SFBJ | Video

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal

An article that I wrote in the early ’90s recession had this exact headline. The first paragraph was the fable of a frog comfortably sitting in tepid water not noticing that he was in a pot that would soon boil and he would be dead. While this is a somewhat gruesome analogy, it also holds a message for the business environment we are in today, during the coronavirus pandemic. Doing nothing is rarely, if ever, an option for survival in business.

The disruptions experienced before stay-at-home orders will be even greater now. But is that a bad thing? Way back in the ’90s, William Edwards Deming was teaching the value of “total quality management” in manufacturing. Japanese and South Korean car companies caught on quickly and rushed their “quality improved” cars into the U.S. auto market with gusto, while U.S. carmakers worked to catch up.

Yes, we now have more competition, but we all also drive superior cars.

The human needs and wants of our prospects and customers haven’t ceased to exist now that we’re living and working from home. If anything, new needs are emerging to consume product and marketing ideas. Those that make life and business better in this new normal will become the norm. The time is now to race ahead to protect and grow your market share. Here are some tools you need to stay top of mind among your target audiences.

Voice and video

Whether as a customer or leader of an organization, there has never been a better time to investigate the opportunities of voice assistant devices. According to surveys, there are over 150 million such devices in U.S. households—and we’re all at home right now.

You probably already ask Alexa to give you the weather, play your favorite music or find recipes. You may have already figured out how Google Home can order food from a favorite restaurant or manage your grocery list. But have you ever asked a voice assistant to clean your house or pick up your dry cleaning? It’s possible, and it’s easier than hopping on your phone to do it.

Start thinking about how voice can help you work more seamlessly or propel your business ahead. Promoting customer engagement is a long-term benefit that will exponentially grow in value over time. Voice marketing is one of those unique marketing investments outside of your website that can both deliver the offer and potentially close the sale. It’s a great pivot for these times when in-person sales and call centers aren’t as viable.

In-house business intelligence

To create a great voice assistant strategy, your sales, customer service and CRM may provide you excellent information about what customers ask about your company most often. You might also do an audit of what voice assistants may already be telling your target audiences about your competition. Some companies are going so far as giving their sales or checkout people specific questions to ask customers so they can get information in real time. This information is incredibly valuable to upgrade search engine optimization for your voice search. After all, voice assistants aren’t like text search. Voice offers the one best answer to a question, instead of a page of high-ranking options.

Voice marketing requires collaboration of marketing, IT, customer service and C-suite understanding of what’s needed to help increase revenues. Agile Methodology can make this collaboration through telecommuting more productive—allowing you to access and encourage the best from your staff.

Live video

Real estate agents are hosting walk-throughs via Facebook Live. Conferences are being held on GoToWebinar. Video is a social distancing-friendly way to create human connection in today’s environment.

And Google recently announced Google Hangouts Meet video conferencing is free and open to all G-Suite users until July 1. Based on its G-Suite edition, an organization can host a remote meeting of up to 250 participants.

Last Sunday, I attended a video conferencing dinner with friends and family from both coasts of Florida and the U.S. while we traded screens to view vacation pictures and chat about our lives. It’s also a great way to enjoy cocktail hour with friends. And, whether business or personal, you can record the sessions to show friends or business associates who couldn’t attend.

Technology has given us many options to race ahead, survive and thrive in our personal lives and in business during this time of great change. It makes sense to learn to use applications that enhance engagement in new ways to maintain and build relationships—definitely a competitive advantage.