May 18, 2020

Lessons from business


Lessons from business

The Mi9 team had a chat with some leading thought experts locally and globally to pick their brains on how their businesses are surviving the current landscape, lessons learnt and how they continue to navigate to keep their head above water whilst supporting their client base.

Jonathan Cook - Neon Hive

Jonathan Cook, Managing Director of Neon Hive, took the time to put together observations on how to thrive (not just survive) as an SME during a crisis.

Jonathan Cook from Neon Hive

During this article Jonathan says that "Maintaining your team culture should be a top priority. When you take a group of independently talented people and create a team with a strong culture, remarkable things can be achieved even in a time of crisis.

From my experience, here are some tips for building and sustaining a rock-solid team culture:

  1. Share a Vision - having and communicating a shared vision or north-star is a key motivator. Once a team’s mindset shifts from tasks to outcomes, and from short-term to long-term, the sky is the limit.
  2. Communicate (often) - and not just about work-related matters, check-in and see how your team is really doing.
  3. Have a bit of fun - above all else, it’s important to have fun and enjoy what you do. Don’t have a Friday afternoon ritual? You should (even if it’s over Zoom)."

Jonathan also mentions "In a time of crisis, it's important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Evaluate how your business is performing, identify areas for improvement, and act on them. That being said, while short term decision making during a crisis is key, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your long term vision."

Nichola Quail - Insights Exchange

Nichola Quail Founder of research start-up Insights Exchange says they have seen a mix of client responses to COVID-19 as they adapt to ‘business as unusual’ from putting customer research on hold, downsizing projects in line with reduced budgets or expanding the research scope to capture customer sentiment during this…wait for it…’unprecedented’ time. Quail believes it is those clients who will be ahead of the curve as we come out the other side.

“This is not a moment in time but a permanent shift in consumer behaviour. I feel that brands can’t afford to do nothing, as their actions now will define what the market and customers think about them beyond Covid”, says Quail. 

Quail further goes on to mention that wherever ones business is right now, there has never been a better time to check in with your customers, understand their evolving needs, and reassess your competitive landscape.

Insights Exchange, in partnership with Comexposium, recently conducted a survey among a mix of leading Australian retailers (both online and omni-channel) to understand how they have adjusted their business model and media spend in the last few weeks. In response to an increase in online traffic, the majority (62%) have increased CRO on their website and half (51%) reported better returns on online media spend. This has since influenced media spend decisions, service delivery and an increased focus on their online channel i.e. website, CRO. As one retailer mentioned:

“We had to take on another warehouse and hire extra staff to accommodate the rise in orders.”

Quail also says that they been working with a global software company to understand how SMEs in six markets have responded to COVID-19. From shifting their focus to online, upskilling in digital marketing to managing staff motivation and navigating Government subsidies. By maintaining an ongoing dialogue with customers, the software company will be well informed to prioritise which products to launch next, adjust their tone of voice in marketing communications and consider customer retention strategies.

Mark Howells - Dakota Ridge Marketing

Another interesting insight was from Mark Howells, the Chief Strategist at Dakota Ridge Marketing in Colorado, United States. When Mi9 spoke to Howells, he claimed that they were hit quite a bit with contracts that were supposed to come through being paused as well as clients pulling back as marketing is not seen as one of the  most important line items on most companies COVID-related budgets. “With our clients we see this as an opportunity to take a step back and look at the whole picture of their marketing foundation and strategies”, says Howell.

Dakota Ridge uses what they call a “Cohesive Marketing” methodology and their client proposition is centred around this. A big part of this is ensuring that all the pieces of a strong foundation are built, using certain pieces to support building out other pieces, and updating those pieces following a cadence. Howells feels this is the perfect time, as businesses close down or pull back, to delve into the foundational aspects and strategies of their clients’ marketing. “Now is the time to keep asking the important questions around goals, branding, segmentation, messaging, tools and other strategic levers”, says Howells. 

To understand more around the Cohesive Marketing methodology and hear Mark’s insights watch the video below:

One thing that has become apparent both locally and abroad however is that companies at B2C and B2B level have, or are learning to, embrace digital channels more effectively to ensure that they remain connected with their target audience.

Scott Jones - 123 Internet Group

Scott Jones, CEO of 123 Internet Group, has stated “We are in uncertain times, but with the increase of remote working and a collaborative approach, companies are turning to digital channels and embracing the transformation. We have seen a real spike during the last few weeks from companies wishing to create or update websites, launch new e-commerce channels and create social media campaigns focused on home-workers and a real focus on using influencers and SEO to reach new audiences.”

Mikayla Hopkins - The Face Place

One such company closer to home which fully embraces digital channels is The Face Place, in Takapuna, Auckland. Mi9 spoke to Mikayla Hopkins, the Chief Marketing Officer for The Face Place on how this client-facing business is  managing the impact on their bottom line. Hopkins explains how they transformed their marketing approach to adapt to the impact of the global pandemic. Drawing on her extensive background in digital strategy, Hopkins and her team led change by implementing a two-tier approach:

  1. Increasing conversions through personalised channels 
  2. Utilising automation and 3D technology to enhance the customer experience 

From implementing virtual consultations and clinician chats, to launching 3D technology for their clients, the company has been able to bridge the personal engagement gap and turn this client-facing business around day by day. To listen to Mikayla’s amazing insights and learnings watch her video here.

Featured Articles