5 Essential Business Lessons We’ve Learned From 2019
2019 has had its fair share of ups and downs for UK businesses. The uncertainty around Brexit and the subsequent election has left many organisations struggling to focus on any one goal. This has caused some to stagnate, others to seize opportunities and a small number to cease trading altogether.
In spite of this, it has provided some valuable insight and commercial lessons for those that powered through.
We’ve compiled each of those lessons here, and offered guidance on how to take them on board.
1. Don’t stall
If you’re hoping to grow, go for it. Being hesitant will only cost you in the long run, regardless of the cultural context. Bigger franchises and local competition won’t slow down their recruitment drive, so if you hope to be an industry contender, you’ll need to do the same.
Product launches, equally, shouldn’t be held back. Your growth needs to be sustainable, yes – but sustainability doesn’t necessarily mean a reduction in output. Clients will recognise a lack of innovation, and if competitors are managing to enhance their product range, so should you.
Your presence in general is important, and product innovation will help elevate that. This is especially true if you’re working in a new territory and challenging the status quo. Half-hearted attempts to win favour as an unknown entity will always be met with little fanfare.
2. Fortune favours the brand
You would think that marketing should take a back seat during uncertainty, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s widely believed that brands who invest in advertising at times of economic hardship find themselves better off in the future.
Currently, it’s being advised that businesses and franchises alike should prepare to “fill the vacuum” when “the fog lifts”. Now that the cultural conversation has changed, something must fill the void. Brands of all shapes and sizes are going to invest heavily in marketing as a result, taking the opportunity to steer consumer interest now that we have a firmer understanding of our future.
Social media accounts will cease commenting on election-related news stories and look forward to setting new trends, with brands close behind tailoring their tone of voice to match. Those experimenting and creating campaigns today will be the talk of the town in 2020.
3. Stay relevant
These new trends, even if they just revolve around a popular TV series, will need to be exploited if you hope to keep pace. Not everyone enjoyed Gillette’s ‘The Best a Man Can Be’ ad, but it made headlines for its commitment to the #MeToo movement and bold challenge to its client base.
As we’ve seen, sitting on the fence will leave you at best being forgotten, and at worst, loathed. You don’t always need to be politically motivated, though – Burger King certainly weren’t when they mocked current social affairs.
Not every franchise business will have the freedom to risk such messaging. But your franchisor may be more inclined to agree with your strategy if you have a take on an issue that is non-biased and engaging. Start by posting questions to your networks regarding current affairs, and establish yourself as a hub of local information.
4. Employee advocacy > advertising
‘Fake news’ has become a common accusation this year, flung at businesses and influencers. The British public has grown sceptical of offers, guides and trials – so much so that 61% of consumers are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or family member compared to a celebrity endorsement.
Client reviews achieve a similar result but are often tricky to get a hold of. Employee-created content, on the other hand, is relatively easy to source. It has the added bonus of being able to be tailored towards your brand too and can receive around 8 times more engagement than content you would share yourself as the franchise or business.
If your staff are willing, there’s nothing better than showing the human faces behind a brand to engage audiences. If you’re unsure what form this can take, we suggest thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn. Here, your employees can post about the industry or current climate and subtly mention the support you offer.
5. Look ahead
Finally, plan. Know your short-, medium- and long-term goals before the year begins so you can forecast income effectively and budget appropriately. Once you have a secure understanding of your finances, you can invest in any of the above suggestions, outpacing local businesses who will no doubt be taking a more cautious approach.
We can’t continue to look back – we have to look forward in order to limit the impact that external factors have on us. While this is easier said than done, varying your client base, firming up each of your customer journeys, and devising a wide-ranging series of messages you can use to move them along the sales funnel, are all small steps you can take to strengthen your position in your market.
January can be excruciatingly slow for many businesses. With clients and customers overspending throughout the Christmas period, the likelihood of enquiries and sales is significantly diminished. There’s therefore no better time than right now to reflect on past successes and failures – and fix your eyes firmly on the horizon.