"Great scott Marty"

"Business and Marketing ain't what it was" is the new mantra, and none more so than what will be the in the post Coronavirus world. 

My day job is working with companies who are needing to 'change and grow'. This focus comes with lots of reasons, and today most of them today are unfortunate basket cases. Common sense tells us the best time to change is similar to the best time to do repairs on your house e.g. when the sun's shining.

But what seems like commons sense doesn't always translate into common practice.

It seems that in times of crisis not only can we become extremely inventive and creative and urgent problem solvers, we also get the opportunity to see the best in humanity as we all come together for the greater good.

Pre Covid-19 we saw lots of retail companies in different sectors who say they were keen to change. As we now know they didn't move quickly enough and the recent crisis has accelerated what would have been a slow terminal decline for some anyway.

The UK government and others around the world have invoked the present day equivalent of the 'Dunkirk Spirit'. This was a time when our (UK) troops were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk trying to beat a hasty retreat from advancing German Soldiers. Churchill's government put out a call to action for small boat owners to cross the channel and 'bring our troops home'.

However, this time around our unified national 'call to action' has been for people to 'stay at home'.

Change is pretty scary for many people, particularly if it seems like it's your job that could be cut as part of that change. The reality is that even though we might say we embrace change we prefer structure, order, and the familiar - so we end up just taking an incremental approach to change which in effect doesn't really change anything does it? 

But what if you had a crystal ball, what do you think you would have done different if you knew how quickly this crisis was going to hit people, countries, economies and business. 

What do you think M&S, Thomas Cook, Mothercare, Debenhams, John Lewis, House of Fraser and others would have done different back when the sun was shining - correct answer is NOTHING, yup that's right, nothing!

The traditional retail sector has lumbered along for many years, when the internet arrived far too many of them simply saw it as a threat to 'cannibalising' the physical store network and did very little, a few of them followed the herd and added a website, but all done at a very slow pace.

In my experience you can introduce new processes, technology, and yes even new people, but if the mindset of the company (it's culture) doesn't change then it's all wasted time and effort. 

I've said it before and I will keep saying it that retail in essence is a simple business, today it seems to be complicated by the arrogance and ignorance of senior leadership teams who don't seem to understand that it's the digitally savvy consumer whose in the driving seat.  

Take a moment to consider the following industry stats;

  • Less than 2% of Employees regularly share or create employer related brand content.
  • Over 33% of Employees are unclear on what to post and how it could benefit their employer.
  • There is a 561% increase in audience for your brand message when shared by employees vs sharing via the corporate channel.
  • 90% of your employee network is new to your brand meaning you are opening up previously untapped audiences.

So when we see retailers (and other businesses) using social platforms as a way to deal with crisis management, or transferring the 'advertise, promote, me, me, me, me' thinking then I wonder if anything is really changing?

Content Discovery via Social Media is one of the ways you can open up new conversations, find groups of 'real' people who are genuinely interested in you, your brand, your employees, and your company and engage with them.

To do this requires a radical rethink about how you utilise social media, and this rethink requires you to reduce your 'advertise and promote' thinking that you will struggle to afford post Covid-19 anyway. 

How about starting to think about being social, which is really about listening, joining in, and creating conversations. And if done right, the people who really can add value to you will find you.

If your company, and your job as a leader is still around post crisis how about investing in upskilling your employees to use social media as way of really providing an authentic voice, rather than the corporate message.

Social Media is no longer an extension of your customer service department. How about using that training to activate at least 10% of the aggregated  workforce to give a non brand police view of the really good reasons to work and shop at each of these companies?

Or will you simply just go 'Back to the Future' and do all the same things over again?

If you would like to explore these ideas and others further drop me a DM and let's set up a call TODAY!