January 1, 1970

Certainty (and communicating) in an uncertain world! (test post)

How the principles of PR, Communications and Change management help keep business flowing.

By Sheenah Rogers-PfeifferWhen the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “Panta Rhei” in 500 BC, little did he realize COVID 19 was coming to change the world and how we communicate. Who guessed that through much of 2020, businesses and brands would be forced to engage with their customers through a proverbial and literal face mask?There are lessons to be learned from the disruption of COVID that hold true regardless of the crisis. If Heraclitus’s one constant in life is change, then these five principles should guide brands and businesses through the future.

  1. Accept that “certainty” is fake. That’s the only certainty in an uncertain world. So when change happens get to that final stage of grief fast – acceptance. That makes you better positioned to readjust. The companies that have done best in 2020 are those that had the agility to shift and adapt to meet the new needs of their customers, even if they had no clue it would work! One of Anstice’s clients in the home-building industry moved to online sales relatively pain free, but only after identifying the real barrier, which was gaining the trust of customers. Once we identified and established trust, the shift to online resulted in happier customers, who received a more customized and hands-on service in designing their dream home. Designing online is more efficient, convenient and rings in at a lower price.
  1. Validate – Test, fail fast, try again. We learned this from the technology sector first, yet most businesses, if not all, are now considered “tech.” Failure is not necessarily a bad thing and can represent the start of your process if you do it fast and cheap. Research is an ongoing process of testing and validating. By building and validating your business step by step, you are protecting yourself from incorrect assumptions. This process is how you integrate pivoting into your business model. We experienced this first-hand with one of our clients. Before spending money on an expensive direct mail campaign, we tested it through a digital campaign first. Used tracking links in email campaigns and unique urls in direct mail. Track and adapt to what’s working and what isn’t. Thanks to modern technology, there are statistically valid ways to quickly and easily ensure your strategy is in-line with the direction of your market and industry.
  1. Identify your risks and mitigate them through a human science lens. Pay attention to current behaviours and sub-cultures as these usually portend the future. Identify the influential factors that will accelerate, reverse or eliminate these trends. What issues arise that need addressing? Who are the real power holders vs. Influencers? Being a forward thinker is what separates the good leaders from the great.

We call this process future proofing. Take a look through the rearview mirror, in hindsight, and you can see just how early many of today’s business trends began years ago and were accelerated by COVID:

  • Working from home.
  • Online shopping, banking and videoconferencing.
  • Digital medicine
  • Distant education.
  1. Those who embrace change and go with the flow, tide, wind, or whatever sailing analogy you wish, will be more equipped to stay afloat. They are agile and adaptive rather than fearful, paralyzed and stuck in the past. These often are the companies whose structural operations are flexible enough to allow for quick decisions and adaptive plans, whose employees are empowered to make decisions, and whose leaders aren’t afraid to throw out existing plans and start again, if necessary. Companies that rely on bureaucratic processes, are status or title-driven and require group-think decision-making will fail and fail spectacularly during difficult times. When our real estate developer client needed to get creative with finances because of COVID, they asked what they could do to create value and impact A COVID friendly, last-day of school Kite Party with free gift cards to be spent at local stores made the people within their communities feel good and seen It was a small, cost-effective but symbolic way of showing people who lived in their communities that this is a company that cares about its people and gives back in small but meaningful ways This translated into record-breaking home sales during the biggest downturn.
  2. Stay close to your customer. This is a no-brainer but one that even the most prominent C-Suite executives are still gun shy about investing in. If you don’t know what to do, who better to listen to than those you are aiming to affect or influence. The boots-on-the-ground, always-on investment in listening and having two-way conversation with real human beings, will mitigate risk, manage conflict and foster trust. During these times, no one wants to hear you shouting your facts and stats from the rooftops. Hiding behind data and stats is the old way of doing business. Today, some companies have even deployed “community managers” to find out where the need is greatest and how best to help. Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s a great marketing tool that shows you are in touch. As much as things change, connecting with others is one thing that is as true today as it will be tomorrow and as it was 2,500 years ago in Heraclitus’ time.

Anstice is proudly now serving the Lower Mainland of recently opening an office in Vancouver. We’d love to hear your stories. How has COVID disrupted your best-laid business plans? For more help, please contact us.