Posted on: April 27, 2020
With unprecedented change across the world, trading conditions are now very different for many businesses. At one end of the spectrum, some are busier than ever; for others trade has ceased altogether.
But the crisis’ restrictions and challenges haven’t stopped some businesses flexing their agility muscles and adapting their business offering and approach to the new environment. They’ve ensured they do indeed still have a market, as well as a highly relevant and purchasable offering to help safeguard their future.
This article, which is in two parts, flags lessons from the great agility examples that have emerged and shares ways to respond quickly to the changed landscape.
Begin with a stop, start, continue
In our work, we’ve always used the stop, start and continue tool in strategy formulation. It’s versatile and helpful at both a high level (eg viewing a whole organisation) or at a micro-level (eg a specific part of a process). This is because it brings great clarity on what’s relevant and what’s not and signposts where to stop wasting resources/efforts and where to invest them.
For those unfamiliar with the tool, it requires you to consider what you need to stop doing, start doing and continue doing to achieve a goal, improvement, result or (in recent times) adapt quickly to the ‘new’ market conditions.
Do beware the stop part of the analysis detracting too much time and attention from the other two parts of the tool. Naturally in a crisis, the focus is to cut back, but this needs to be done with care, so you don’t hamper being able to seize opportunities that arise, or losing the capability to respond well to further changes.
What you need to continue and start doing are equally as important. From these parts of the tool, things like new opportunities, improved customer experience, increased customer loyalty, new customers and sales etc tend to flow.
Stop, start and continue works for small businesses and large corporates alike – here’s how Google recently used it to adapt their offering amidst the crisis.
Spotting opportunities for adaptation
How you should adapt your business offering to be relevant in a changed market will come from a review of 2 key areas:
- Understanding how your market is reacting to the current changes
- A thorough review of your offering and approach
It’s important that you gain the market insights first, before you do the business review. This is because you need to be influenced by your customers when you cast your eye over your offering. The more aligned you are to current market needs and behaviour, the greater your chances of making changes which will resonate with customers.
Market insights to be alert to
Consider these questions to strengthen your understanding of current market(s) and buyer behaviour:
- What do the current restrictions mean for our customers? How is it impacting on them? Think about specific challenges they face to spot ways in which you could help.
- How are customers now using our products and services? Has this changed? Which parts of our offering are more relevant currently?
- What frequently asked questions are we now fielding?
- Which pages on our website have been more popular in recent weeks?
If you have a loyal customer base, do encourage them to send suggestions as to how you can better support them in these times. Where possible ensure your business is open and accessible for dialogue.
It also helps to look out beyond your traditional market to see if others now have a need for your products/services. Do the new working/living conditions mean you can help others who are no longer able to do something in a way they did before?
Review your offering– what you do and the components of how you do it
With that customer perspective commanding your focus, now review your offering – what you do and how you do it. In doing consider:
- The equipment/systems you use to make it
- The skills/expertise you have in your teams
- The organisational setup – how your people are currently organised
- How customers can buy your product/services
- The delivery method for your product/service
Can you change any elements to better reflect current needs and buying patterns?
Different adaptation strategies
Depending on your review’s findings a number of opportunities can emerge:
- Diverting more energy and resources to those products/services which are relevant and needed in the current environment. Here you will need to promote the uses and benefits of the product/services in the context of the crisis.
- Adapting what you produce or deliver. For example, training events are moving online, restaurants have switched to takeaways and ready meals, garden centres are now operating an eCommerce side to their business.
- Create something new – either on your own as part of a collaboration with another business. For example, artisan gin makers have been making hand sanitiser gel, fashion clothing manufacturers have switched to making personal protective equipment, hairdressers are offering home-styling tutorials online, florists are buddying up with food retailers to deliver food boxes with flowers.
Having uncovered the form your adapted approach needs to take, speed is now of the essence. In our next article, we’ve discussed how to adapt quickly to ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities and waste valuable time.
Can we help?
If you need help reviewing, adapting or promoting your offering in the current market, do get in touch.