The business impact of COVID-19 is proving to be significant. The post-COVID-19 world is going to look very different to how it was before.
Here are three of the most important changes that you should be planning for right now.
This process has been accelerated by COVID-19. Think about and plan for what this means for your business.
Already a recognised mega-trend within life sciences, the entire life sciences sector now has a new motivation for accelerating the process of digitization. Particularly relating to working habits and practices. As people return to work, the shift will obviously ease a little. However, habits will have been irrevocably changed as people realise how much can be achieved digitally.
This new reality is not just being shaped by the perceptions of individuals, fearful of being caught in second waves or reluctant to travel away from family members. It’s also being shaped by employers who will be more reluctant to ask employees to travel. This sentiment was already growing, driven by climate change and changing attitudes towards operating a sustainably, responsible business.
Most of our clients at Front Line Genomics use events such as conferences or exhibitions as the primary means of generating leads and demonstrating thought leadership with their prospects or audience. It’s obvious that the face-to-face events industry has been decimated. It’s hard to predict the rate of recovery, which will differ from region to region.
Regardless, COVID-19 will have a significant and longstanding impact on the way audiences consume information, gather intelligence, network and evaluate buying options. Face-to-face events will not disappear. In fact, those that embrace and use digital platforms for engagement may well thrive.
However, audience habits will have changed forever, well beyond the lifting of lockdowns and the relaxation of travel restrictions. We’ve entered a new phase in the move towards full business digitization. You’ll need to plan for big changes in the way you take your products to market.
The Sneaky Land-Grab
Be aware of the land grab for missing customer value and market share that’s already happening.
In the short term, the shift towards digitization and shifting audience habits will lead to a breakdown and reassembly of the events, publishing and business intelligence industries, where a full-scale land grab for market share is already happening.
Looking more closely at the events industry, those companies who have not taken the time to regularly engage with their audience (except to make money from them) are already being badly exposed. They will yield market share to smarter, more agile and digitally engaged operators.
You should factor this into your decision-making process when investing in events to meet your business objectives in future.
The same is true of every industry, including life sciences. Companies who quickly learn to effectively engage with their audience digitally will capture market share, and retain many of those customers once the world returns to some semblance of ‘normal’.
Many companies will merely be looking to mitigate for the lost leads they would have generated from cancelled and postponed events. Others will be looking to change their approach more permanently, and capitalise upon longstanding changing audience habits to take market share from their competitors.
Companies that do not learn to effectively engage with their audience digitally will find it harder to thrive. With that in mind, it’s crucial to:
Strengthen your own digital capabilities, including how you evaluate opportunities.
Understand as much as you can about how your competitors are responding.
At the very least, you should be aiming to maintain market share during this crisis, and plan to update your engagement methods once lockdowns and travel restrictions are lifted.
Precision over scale
There’s a great awakening coming. Be ready for it.
The myth of scale, as opposed to precision, is about to be found out.
If you’ve been using events as part of your engagement strategy, it’s likely (although not definite) you’ve gravitated towards larger (usually well-established) events where you feel spending your marketing budget is a safe move – for example, large association events and long-standing incumbent events with high levels of booth traffic or larger audiences.
By contrast, the big opportunity digital platforms provide is not about engaging with the most people. It’s about engaging with the right people, and in ways that your audience find useful i.e. they address the needs of your audience, and by virtue of helping or educating your audience, they are more likely to buy from you.
We’ve been talking about precision medicine for years. Well, welcome to the new era of precision marketing.
If done well, the shift in emphasis to digital will allow you to re-shape the perception of your brand, better support your audience and deliver enhanced customer value.
But more than that, it will become an opportunity to not just meet the needs of your audience, but understand their behaviour and predict their buying habits. It’s an opportunity that works for both parties, where certain people within your audience are more likely to be ready to engage with you.
Taken a step further, the shift to digital is an opportunity to influence your audience, and monitor the impact of that influence.
Precision over scale should be a mantra of the digital market. Face-to-face events that do not provide clients with the opportunity for precise engagement will soon be found out.