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9 things businesses must pay attention to

/ 04:58 AM January 22, 2021

Quennie Cua, Rowen Untivero and Malu Dy Buncio

The level of disruption forced upon businesses in 2020 was unimaginable. Some were shell-shocked but still managed to stretch resources to live ano­ther day. Still, some were more ahead of the curve and gained more despite the crisis.

With the start of 2021 giving people a natural reset and more hope, now is a good time to put systems in place to weather the unavoidable next crisis.

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

1. It is no longer enough to just do emotional adverti­sing.

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The business model can be the differentiator. Many businesses changed 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 boardrooms.

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.” If you do not digitalize, you’ll get left behind. Many companies will need to play catchup with the digitalization trend.

3. It is no longer enough to just have a digital strategy; 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: “Marketing 5.0 will be a serious game changer, using AI (artificial intelligence), facial recognition and IoT (Internet of things) to do optimization and prediction of potential results.”

4. It is no longer enough to compete; businesses should collaborate even with competition.

Industries have common issues that can be tackled by partnering with competition rather than isolating oneself. For instance, fear of dining out was addressed by the “Angat Ingat” campaign of the restaurant industry in the Philippines. Shopping malls and 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.

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5. It is no longer enough to just deliver, businesses should also be environment-friendly.

As delivery services have spiked and will continue to be relied upon due to lockdowns, 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; innovation is key.

Innovation is beyond doing what’s new in a company but what’s new in an industry. The new lechon manok and hot pandesal, for example, sushi bake and ube pandesal.

7. It is no longer enough to survive; one must adopt a gratitude mindset.

Former Avon top executive Malu Dy Buncio said: “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; one must 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 for something worse?

How should we think differently, see things differently and do things differently?”

9. It is no longer enough to just learn; businesses should also 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 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.
—CONTRIBUTED

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