9 Things Businesses Must Pay Attention To

The level of disruption forced upon businesses in 2020 was unimaginable.  Some were shell-shocked but managed to stretch resources to live another day.  Still, some were more ahead of the curve and were able to gain more in the crisis.  With the start of 2021 giving people a natural re-set and more hope, this is also a good time to put systems in place for the next crisis –  now inevitable in any premortem business planning.

Here are 9 things businesses must pay attention to, having learned painful lessons last year:

1. It is no longer enough to just do emotional advertising.  The business model can be the differentiation.  Many businesses pivoted their business model to save the company as well as to save the jobs of their employees. Marketers, as well as functional department heads, should look beyond differentiation in the marketing mix  (like a great ad in a red ocean industry is still a red ocean strategy), but a different mindset (for differentiation) is needed to have a business model-first mentality in the corporate board rooms. 

 2. It is no longer enough to just operate a business, digitalization is a minimum requirement.  Quennie Cua, Chief Marketing Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, said it best -“Digitalization is not just a strategy but a means to survive.”  This means it has changed from “Do and Win” to “Do and Match.”  If you do not digitalize, you get left behind. Many companies will need to play catch up with the digitalization trend. 

3. It is no longer enough to just have a digital strategy, but a digital-first strategy is needed.  As expansion through physical stores will be rationalized, those who operate on a digital-first strategy will be ahead of the curve. Mansmith’s Partner Rowen Untivero said it best “Marketing 5.0 will be a serious game changer, using AI, facial recognition and IoT to do optimization and prediction of potential results.”

4. It is no longer enough to compete but to collaborate even with competition.  Industries have common issues that can be tackled by partnering with competition rather than choosing to isolate one’s self. For instance, fear of dining out was addressed by the “Angat Ingat” campaign of the restaurant industry in the Philippines. Shopping malls, schools can do the same to benefit themselves as well as the community better. Smaller food providers can also cooperate and work together to buy in bulk and come close or match the much lower raw material costs of big chains. 

5. It is no longer enough to just deliver, but to be environmental friendly. As delivery service spiked up tremendously, especially in food, think about unnecessary packaging that can be reduced. A case in point is Korea where food deliveries are in bowls and dishes and are recalled by the same delivery crew a few hours after, much like how soft drink companies recall used bottles.

6. It is no longer enough to just start or do business but to be innovative.  Innovation is beyond doing what’s new in a company but what’s new in an industry. The new lechon manok and hot pandesal are now the sushi bake and ube pandesal. The entrepreneurial culture of a country is dependent on what the major entrepreneurial educators or groups are mindful to teach.

7. It is no longer enough to survive but to adopt a gratitude mindset.  Former Avon top executive Malu Dybuncio said it best about the need to shift from self-pity to gratitude. “The pandemic has brought about the best and worst in people. One of the best trends resulting from this pandemic is becoming grateful for blessings big and small. Grateful for having been kept safe and healthy.  Grateful for being able to help others rather than being the one to have to ask for help.” A grateful mindset helps improve one’s health, relationships, self-esteem and even sleep. 

8. It is no longer enough to just continue what has worked but to anticipate the worst.  Business leaders need to think ahead: “what if competition will match what we have been doing? What if we cannot do what we do so well? What if 2020 was just a rehearsal of something worse? How should we think differently, see things differently and do things differently?”

9. It is no longer enough to just learn but to unlearn and reflect.  Knowledge (in business) has a short shelf life. What used to work may no longer work. Context needs to be taken into consideration. Business people must have the humility to learn from other industries, from subordinates, from peers and even from outsiders who can offer a different perspective, a different specialization, a different mindset. 

South African President Nelson Mandela  once said “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”  While 2020 has taught us to henceforth prepare for the unimaginable, business people must build from the lessons and in order to grow, will need to keep challenging mindsets, get out of comfort zones, and be ready with the skills and capabilities that the new business landscape requires.

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