Fast forward to the future: will your business still exist?

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22/09/2020

Today your business may not exist at all if it does not exist digitally. A digital presence, visibility, ease of access and ease of use of your business are more important than ever. However, it is an aspect of your business that many CEOs and Founders have delegated to someone more junior in the organisation. 

Many leaders like you experienced first-hand their business growing in the physical world and intuitively understand what needs to be done. However, you may lack the same intuition or recognise your digital empathy is much lower than it needs to be to compete successfully.

When we are discussing digital, we are talking about your business model in the new world we live in.

Of course, digital marketing is an important part and you may have heard of keywords, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, landing pages, marketing automation, inbound, outbound etc which is good as they drive customer acquisition and retention. You probably have someone in your organisation who is delivering this for you.

However, do you really want to ask the junior person to make these critical decisions on your business model and growth prospects with little or no visibility or oversight? Even if they are forthcoming, are they able to provide the helicopter view that you require? 

That probably sounds like stating the obvious, but can you see your organisation clearly or could you benefit from the help of a fractional CMO who understands the digital world? 

Covid-19 has accelerated the transition to a digital future and some big players have been caught out by not having robust and effective digital way of working and communicating both internally and externally in place. However, while it’s easy to point out where others should have been better prepared, recognising what your business needs and the best way to do it in order to make it relevant today can be a hard thing to do from the inside. That’s where the outside perspective of a fractional CMO could be the answer. 

It’s not enough to have an IT department

If you see a business talking about their technology achievements, they probably not doing digital. Technology does not make you digital. It does enable you to be digital.

Digital means really understanding who your customers are, what are their pain points that you can help solve and making it easy for them to engage with you. If you score very high on each of those three metrics you are probably prospering even in this world we live in as the customer does not rely on the physical world to engage with you. If you are in the hospitality sector, it is very difficult because you have been selling experiences and socialisation. The latter has been severely curtailed by the virus of course.

So digital really means being customer driven, what used to be called a customer first culture.

Digital also means instant feedback and real time service. Is your customer service team under pressure at lunch time? Why? Because you have not adapted your business to the needs of your customers. Shouldn’t you be available when your customers want? If you are not available, the customer will find someone who is. This is why COVID19 is not an isolated incident but is causing a seismic shift in our behaviours. We have moved forward and changed long standing behaviours in only in 6 months when they had been forecasted to take 10 years. Imagine if you live in the US where chip and pin for credit and debit cards is really only coming into play now.

Digital means being intelligent as you want to make it easy for the customers to deal with you. No more heavy lifting or thinking it is not your problem. If your firm is difficult to deal with, the customer can switch or if they can’t they will feel trapped and it is like a storm brewing.

A matter of perspective 

All of that can sound a little daunting, a little apocalyptic, a little threatening. However, in the words of author Wayne Dyer, “when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” It’s just that sometimes we need help seeing things differently, especially when we’re sitting on the inside of a situation - or organisation.

In today’s world, we have a great advantage when it comes to gaining perspective. That’s because far from the days of old where people stayed in one company from the first day of their careers to the last, we now live in a universe where people are able to gain vast and varied experience over the course of their careers. 

That means, that by the time people reach the top of their game, they have absorbed knowledge from a variety of brands and situations. That allows them to bring fresh perspective and innovative ideas to the boardroom table, allowing them to bring nuance rather than prescriptive know-how into the arena.

A fractional CMO sees things differently

CMOs are very often thought to be by those who don’t know to be concerned with only the client facing aspects of marketing. However, this is a role that’s purpose is to build, protect and improve brand value by looking at the strategic role of all things that relate to it, from internal communications to blockages in the sales pipeline, making them the perfect people to analyse what your business needs to do to function effectively, digitally.

Not blindsided by past or even current successes, and aware of the wider market rather than just seeing it from your place within it, a fractional CMO is an empathetic outside perspective for you and your company with a vested interest in ensuring the integrity and success of your brand.

Their purpose is not to replace a permanent marketing executive, and it's not concerned with internal politics or gaining personal favour with the CEO. They come with a rich CV and knowledge gained through the hard graft of years going through the ranks, they bring integrity, trust and a seasoned outside perspective to your business in order to guide it through a particular growth phase or situation.

We all know and recognise that many businesses have taken a beating this year, and the idea of having to do anything more than put one foot in front of the other can be overwhelming. However, the reality is that as business leaders, there is a need to do a bit of self-analysis and recognise whether the way your company is operating is now fit for purpose. The changes it needs might not be as dramatic as it all sounds, but they do need to be consciously made so that you can feel confident moving forward.