THERE IS AN OLD RULE IN POLITICS that would also be best applied as well by decision-makers in the world of business and corporate finance. “The timing of a decision is almost as important as the decision itself. Timing is everything.”
The Corona virus pandemic has spread so quickly around the globe that the enveloping crisis appears to be one step ahead of all response logistics. It is now time for the world to wake up and take the lead.
Having spent the better part of my career in the corporate world of high-tech business development and strategic marketing, with responsibilities amounting to nearly $1 billion, I have witnessed that timing is the element that is the hardest to get right. Over forty odd years I have seen delay, indecision and procrastination by business leaders and entrepreneurs cost them millions in lost revenue. I have witnessed a multi-million dollar development initiative wrecked by delays in R & D, thereby missing the market, then the loss compounded by the lack of a convincing marketing campaign when the product was finally signed off. Thankfully these failures pale into insignificance compared with the successes.
Ironically the business culture endemic within the USA with its ‘land of open opportunity’ ideology has also been the most risk averse. Allow me to clarify. I am not referring here to the risk undertaken in product developments and product investments, but rather the risk in creating adventurous marketing programmes and advertising promotions. In many SME’s the willingness to advertise has been denigrated, pushed aside, viewed as an extra burden impacting the cost of sale, but I predict that in the post-Corona business world everything is about to turn full circle, and advertising will play a survival role in the methodology of all business.
Video will not only continue to maintain its status as the mainstay of product marketing, but its already detrimental impact on traditional print advertising is likely to increase, as businesses begin to look critically at the ROI (Return on Investment). Budgets are tighter than ever in what will be a fight for survival in the post-Corona world during the next two years.
But it’s not all negative. The largest weapon any business has is the ability to use video to reach potential customers using social media. It’s fast, popular, friendly and effective; but coming back to the point made at the start of this article, the true advantage is not about taking the decision to use video as a weapon of choice. It’s the timing of that decision. Timing is everything. The business survivors in the post-Corona world will be those that decide to be proactive and make the biggest noise about changes to their products and services. Most businesses will need to radically overhaul their business models, because in a post-Corona world, buyers will have shifted to on-line deliveries, and on-line shopping, and they may never switch back to traditional retail browsing and shopping by foot.
Upmarket restaurants need to be prepared for the footfall on their premises to stay at a low level for months, if not years, and consequently they need to adjust business models accordingly. One of the unusual steps they need to incorporate is the shift to home deliveries. They may not want to, but, in reality, there may be no other way to survive long-term. Home deliveries of products may no longer be classed as a fad, extravagance, or an eccentricity by mass markets. Home delivered, gourmet cooked meals are just around the corner, and have already been adopted by some pub-restaurants to maintain a cash flow during the lockdown. I predict that this will become a norm. The Corona pandemic is the catalyst that makes home delivery economically viable because the volume and scale has multiplied and will continue to gain traction. And we should all be prepared for Jeff Bezos at Amazon to push ahead with surmounting legislation for advancing delivery services by UAVs, aka drones.
The name of the game will be efficiency and ergonomics to reduce cost of sale. Running delivery vans and drivers is a relatively high cost option that does not sit well with cost-reduction accounting and artificial intelligence driven decision tree analysis.
The key to surviving the required change is to embrace, adapt, adjust, and most important of all, inform your market that you have done so. Failure to recognise these basic truths will push you closer to failure faster than you can imagine. And the sooner you inform your market that you have adapted, the quicker you will move your business to a securer footing in the survivorship stakes.
Let’s take a practical example of an entrepreneur looking for financial investment in the post-Corona world, and how using video as a keynote platform can get the essentials of the product and service in front of potential investors within days, instead of months, and do it efficiently in a manner that is of time-saving advantage to those investors that no longer have the time to spend hours sitting through long presentations. Why would anyone want to spend time in a face-to-face meeting if, given the choice, they could make some preliminary business determination in an on-line, virus free environment?
Traditionally the entrepreneur, or a member of the team, prepares a pitch outlining the uniqueness, market value, costs and envisaged revenues, backed up by projections in the form of a business plan, outlining timescales, production scalability, profits, and expenditures across 3, 5, 7 years, or some other period. It’s basically a sales pitch, followed by a question and answer session, involving a variety of collateral, including graphs, printed material, photos, spreadsheets, supporting video and so on. It can take anything from 30 minutes to a few hours, but the upshot is that at the end of the session the investors can make a preliminary determination whether they want to take it further, get more details or simply decline. The meeting is dissolved and then maybe a few weeks later the entire show is repeated in front of another group of investors, and the process continues until something clicks, and the investment machine grinds into gear.
Now let’s look at the post-Corona world. First, investment money will be harder to obtain because investors will be nervous and more risk averse, while they wait for a reasonable level of market equilibrium and some stability to return. Secondly, investors will simply be harder to locate and will be looking for a means of saving time, and will be less willing to make personal meetings, without some kind of assurance that the risk of contact is really going to be a good use of their time. Of course, they don’t know that in advance of holding the meeting, so we have a perfect Catch-22 situation. Thirdly, the entire pitching process from first investor presentation to investor involvement is likely to take many times longer, because investors are only going to take an interest where the product or service is easily understood and is quantifiable. Technology pitches involving patents and unfamiliar science are likely to keep being declined, unless the entrepreneur is adept at presenting a complicated subject in an easily understood format. Investors will always defer to bringing in their technology consultant / adviser, and until that happens nothing will be accomplished.
Admittedly the latter scenario doesn’t require the Corona pandemic to be relevant, but in a post-Corona world with social distancing, new office working guidelines, and travel restrictions, the difficulties of presentation and follow-up meetings to clarify an obtuse, technical concept, is only going to get more complicated. If we have ever needed a KISS (keep it simple stupid) vehicle to pitch a concept in the pre-Corona age, then we need it more than ever in the post-Corona world.
Now, supposing we create a concise, sophisticated, three-minute template explainer/promo video package, carefully crafted to cover the new product or service, in layman language, with animation illustrating the product sales flow, include the key value adds, the advantages of investment, the market size, the uniqueness, the business mission, the amount of investment required, what that investment will be used for, the envisaged ROI, and we ship that video out, with a covering letter to specific targeted investor institutions, having first made a courtesy telephone call.
We effectively accomplish in a few weeks what could take months of work, using the traditional pitching channel across many institutions. We save everyone’s time, everyone is briefed efficiently, and if we are asked for follow up details, we know that we have an interested investor. That single, template video has acted, as introduction, pitch, explainer and sales tool in the one vehicle, and nobody has felt inhibited about security, health, the environment and all the other tricky facets of doing business in a post-Corona world. The video has evolved from being a support element in our pitch to being the pitch and we are able to pitch to as many investors as needed in the time it takes to get the video out the door to the local shipping courier.
The key is producing a carefully constructed video that dots all the i’s and crosses the t’s, and that’s where Empathic Productions comes into play. Because Empathic Productions is a video production business run by those experienced in creating strategic marketing programmes designed to meet specific goals, we are best placed to create that strategic weapon that will give your business key advantages in the post-Corona uncertainty. What we all need to do is ensure that in the process of restructuring we make space in our budgets for promoting and getting the message across to buyers, who are unlikely to move away from the safety of on-line shopping. Buyers of the brave new world are going to want to purchase more than the usual clothes, DIY commodities and ancillaries. Food, meals, hot and cold drinks, cars, furniture, shoes, services, domestic equipment, entertainment, servicing repairs are all going to go on-line with home delivery. The trend has already started. The virus pandemic has cemented the trend. If selling is part of your business, your timing in deciding to take action is almost as important as the decision itself. Your timing is everything.
Welcome to the brave new world of business!
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