As a young adult, I spent many, many hours getting punched in the face.
I wasn’t living in a rough area or doing anything particularly untoward – but I did find a passion in martial arts, in particular Krav Maga. I enjoyed training multiple days a week and if I recall correctly, I was quite good. I could punch, kick, elbow, knee, and generally throw myself (or others) out of most hairy situations.
So why did I seem to keep getting punched in the face?
Early on I learned that to progress, you should train with people better than you. If you get good at kicking, try training in a boxing gym, if you become proficient with your hands, try going to a jujitsu class. And though I kept mixing up my training trying to continuously improve, I kept coming back to Krav Maga. Why? Because in those classes we invariably kept coming back to basics – regardless if it was your first year training or if you had been doing it for a decade, polishing up on the fundamentals allowed you to build better, stronger, more advanced and effective techniques.
Want to learn how to take on multiple attackers? Defend yourself against a pistol? A knife? Fight in an alleyway? You better make sure you’ve brushed up on your stance, your guard, and that jab you learned in lesson one.
Fast-forward a decade (or so), and I find myself thinking about this process more and more. Not necessarily getting punched in the face, but certainly getting back to the rudimentary principles. I’ve spoken to so many companies over the last month who are trying to understand how they can survive – or even thrive – during this global pandemic and my thinking has become the same as it was in a sweaty gym in North-West London – get back to the fundamentals.
Companies are currently recalculating budgets, making cuts where they can, and trying to maintain their sales pipelines wherever possible. It’s never a good time to go back to square one – unless of course, it is. And I argue that now is the perfect time. Regardless of if you are one small cog in a multi-billion-dollar company or a sole-trader, COVID-19 has impacted the landscape of almost every sector in some way resulting in everyone, everywhere having their status quo shifted.
When I talk about fundamentals, I truly mean the basics. Re-evaluating what your target market is, who your target personas are, and (I believe most importantly) what their pain-points, priorities, and challenges are, what their day to day behaviours look like, and where their eyes and ears are. People’s daily routines have changed drastically around the world, as have their ways of consuming media, communicating with others, and making both personal and business decisions.
But even more than knowing your landscape and knowing your customers, knowing yourself is crucial. The way in which your business is behaving has undoubtedly changed, with a more distributed workforce, an unstable market and new technological challenges, companies who have attempted to carry on as normal without revisiting the ‘why’ of certain tasks have struggled. Some activities are undoubtedly more challenging, whilst others can be streamlined. This change in internal structure and process gives opportunities to explore avenues of outreach that had fallen by the wayside or vice versa.
All of this should be chunked into ‘phase one’; know yourself, know your landscape, and research your various persona types. Once this has been completed, you’ll likely be sitting on new raw information that, once analysed as a group, will give you additional insight into how to sell to, service, surprise and delight your clients and prospects.
But here is where many companies falter at the last hurdle.
Once the research is complete, generally people have a huge bias for action – ‘let’s take what we’ve learned and deploy x, y, and z’, ploughing full steam ahead in the new, slightly altered direction.
This is certainly better than navel-gazing, however there is one more step which would make sure that you make the most of your newfound knowledge.
Test. Test test test test test. Like making any alterations to your go-to-market strategy, MQL scoring, or PPC keywords, you wouldn’t make a colossal change without first trialling the new approach with a control group. There is no hard and fast rule for the size of these controls -or the frequency of them -but it is absolutely crucial to do and discover gaps in your initial thinking.
The next few months are likely to see more tectonic shifts in the business landscape, and the ways in which people conduct their lives. Therefore, re-evaluating customer journeys, personas, and routes to market is going to be one of the most effective ways to stay ahead of the curve, counter-punching to the shifting tides.
I have no doubt that many businesses are about to be punched in the face (again) – how they react to it will be what makes some stand out while others crumble. Regardless if they are experts at inside sales, PPC, content, or events, a balanced and well-rounded approach will be needed to weather this storm.
To serve this need, The PR Office has just formalised a new offering to assist companies with their market entry and expansion, which can be found here.