By Maria Thimothy, Sr. Consultant at OneIMS, helps businesses grow by creating and capturing demand and managing and nurturing relationships.
Market disruption happens. While it can often be perceived in a negative light, many times it actually heralds a time of innovation and growth. Some of the biggest companies around have become successful because they disrupted the market and forced their brand as well as others in the industry to pivot and become more competitive in offering clients even better services.
Just 10 years ago we were mailing DVDs weekly, whereas today we choose from thousands of programs to stream on-demand at the click of a button, and that is all thanks to disruption. Regardless, disruption can put a strain on businesses, and it is up to us to help our clients successfully navigate the challenges of pivoting their strategy.
Whether your client’s business has been affected by natural evolution in their market, such as the development of a competitive new service or product or something as ubiquitously upsetting as Covid-19, remaining objective is key. When clients need to pivot their business models, they feel pressured to move quickly in order to avoid being left behind, or worse, going under.
However, making rash decisions is not in the interest of good business. This is why it is important that you stay objective when listening to your clients’ needs and ensure that they are looking at all their options when it comes to changing their business focus. It may be that your client is under the false impression that they have to completely overhaul their business model or embark on an expensive marketing strategy to improve their bottom line. It is your job to find all the options to help them weigh the most effective move for them.
Keeping an objective eye and focusing on facts will instill confidence in your client that you are being thorough and not rushing them to make quick decisions that could incur unnecessary costs or even be detrimental to their business.
Do your research.
It may seem very obvious, but often we rely on what our clients tell us about their business without doing a deeper dive to see what is really going on in their market. Whether it is digging into market research and reports or taking another look at your client’s website or social media metrics, gathering as much measurable information as you can will help determine the market environment and establish a foundation of facts upon which to base decisions.
A client may see a dip in sales and think that they are offering the wrong type of service or that their target market has dwindled; however, these issues may be red herrings. It could very well be that by just tweaking their social media strategy, they can reach a broader clientele and improve their business. Keep in mind that laying strong groundwork based on well-researched data also helps create a baseline so you have something to compare to when benchmarking success.
Familiarize yourself with the competition.
Generally, markets change in waves, so what affects one company within an industry sooner or later reaches the rest. Knowing what your client’s competitors are doing to remain ahead of the game is essential to making sure you give good and lasting advice.
Looking at the competition will provide you with valuable knowledge about trends and whether the issues affect an entire market or are limited to just one area of the business and whether they impact a particular geographical area or only hit a specific segment of the buying market.
You will see how others in the business are pivoting and working to remain competitive and learn valuable lessons about what has and hasn’t worked for them. In this way, you will be well placed to offer a range of solutions and ideas.
Whether your client is looking to proactively pivot or is being pushed due to external factors, you are there to help make their journey easier and their business successful. So, the most important factor when helping businesses evolve is flexibility in your approach.
For example, a startup client may have many good ideas of their own and require more hands-on help early on as they develop and troubleshoot their marketing approach. This means an initial period of intense time investment on both your parts, followed by a lighter touch once their business is more established and stable.
On the other hand, a client with a more mature business may not think they need to pivot their business strategy, not realizing that a few small changes made consistently over time will go a long way in maintaining their long-term profitability. It will be your advice that helps keep them competitive.
Maintaining a responsive and tailored approach to your client’s needs is key to ensuring their success in adapting to changing markets and, in turn, keeps your business adapting in response as well.
We are all in this together.
Remember, no business is an island, and neither is yours. When your job is to help clients change their business models or adapt their marketing strategy to changing times, you have to remember your business is also responding and adjusting. Be sure to take an approach that is responsive to your clients’ needs and based on objectivity, strong data and market knowledge. Combine these with a flexible approach and you will be in a great position to help your clients in challenging times.