COVID-19 has accelerated the decision-making timeline of just about every business. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
When you treat every initiative as a learning opportunity, regardless of whether it works or not, you have nothing to lose.
As chief marketing officer at Cubii, a wellness company that makes compact seated ellipticals, I have seen firsthand how having a growth mindset can propel a startup forward during a time when things change faster than they ever have before.
Since the start of the crisis, we’ve been operating at warp speed to meet changing market demands and finding ways to offer timely solutions. We’ve tested fast and failed fast, and as a result, we’ve learned a lot about how we can navigate business during the crisis, while also better serving our community and those most at risk. Here’s how your company can do the same.
Have a (Virtual) Space to Think Out Loud
Before you start testing anything, you need some ideas.
At Cubii, we quickly found out as our team adjusted to remote work that virtual meetings were very regimented and task-oriented. We were getting things done, but we weren’t giving ourselves time for discussion. We missed the ideation sessions that would happen organically while hanging out in the office together.
Recently, we’ve put time on our calendars for open conversation and idea sharing to try to recreate the magic of in-office collaboration. That’s where we’ve gotten many of our ideas for our “tests.”
The Takeaway: Carve out time to virtually get together with your team just to think out loud. Someone’s casual suggestion could turn into your next marketing campaign.
Listen to Your Customers
Great ideas don’t only come from your colleagues. Often, they come from your customers.
Listening to your customers is now more important than ever. The lockdown situation and its accompanying stressors have caused a major shift in consumer needs and interests. Even if you regularly collected consumer feedback before the pandemic, it’s crucial to tune in to what your customers are saying right now, because it’s probably different from what they were saying two months ago.
As a company with a fast growing direct-to-consumer channel, we’ve always listened to our customers as if they were our own team members. When we’re trying a lot of new things, as we have been during the pandemic, we tend to incorporate lots of customer ideas into our products and initiatives.
Pain points brought on by COVID-19 are an opportunity for companies to provide quick solutions. For example, we saw our customers on social media expressing interest in at-home workouts that incorporate other accessories while using the Cubii, so we partnered with fitness instructors to create full-body workout programs on Facebook Live.
The Takeaway: Pay attention to where your customers are talking — such as social media, product reviews, or customer support resources — to find valuable ideas for new initiatives.
Take the Leap You Weren’t Ready to Make Before
If your product or service offers something of value to people who need it right now, share it. If there was a customer sector you were interested in during pre-pandemic times that could now really benefit, start talking to stakeholders in that sector and find out how you can help.
Cubii was getting a lot of interest from the senior living space for a while, but due to limited bandwidth, we hadn’t proactively pursued it until now. We noticed how senior living residents are currently in need of safe, socially distanced ways to stay active, and we were able to partner with more than 100 senior living and nursing homes to help them through our products. We got the opportunity to donate 500 compact seated ellipticals, and we worked hard to ensure we had the inventory and resources to deliver them.
As a result, we’ve been able to help hundreds of older adults have a way to keep moving during these times, and they’ve helped us get feedback on our products.
The Takeaway: Don’t hesitate to find a way to serve your community and act on it. If there’s a market you were waiting to break into or a product you were waiting to launch, get that ball rolling.
Be Adaptable With New Tests
Every test is an opportunity to learn more about your market and perfect your process along the way. Even if one campaign doesn’t work out as you intended it to, you can gain valuable feedback from your customers that can guide your next initiative.
With lockdowns in place, we realized that many people who had Cubiis no longer had access to their unit if they’d left it in the office. At the same time, we knew that there was a heightened need for new ways to stay active during the increasingly sedentary workday of the stay-at-home employee. We also knew that the new urgency tied to this need was temporary.
So, we tried two approaches to meet those needs, and we tried them at the same time with separate audiences: individuals, who might want to purchase a second unit for home, and employers, who might want to make at-home working better for their employees. By testing isolated campaigns in tandem instead of doubling our timeline by testing one campaign at a time, we were able to identify a new audience and iterate in half the time.
The Takeaway: Learn what an unsuccessful campaign says about what people want and need right now. Seek constant feedback from customers and prospects:
- Use customer satisfaction surveys.
- Read reviews.
- Listen to uninterested prospects’ feedback.
Now’s the Time to Be Agile
Unlike larger businesses that might have more challenges in quickly adapting to the rapidly changing times, smaller, more nimble companies have agility baked into their DNA. Many of these companies have weathered heavy storms by constantly rethinking strategies and moving fast to solve problems – and they’ve come out successful on the other side.
Keep your eyes peeled for great ideas from team members and customers, put those ideas into action, and learn from what goes well and what goes wrong to do even better the next time.