- In 2020, we saw that relationships at the core of those that have been able to pull themselves through.
- In 2021, Reboot, refresh, re-energise are going to be the mantras for recovery. But that’s not going to be enough. Re-connect will be just as important, writes Vandana Sandhir, Chief Client Officer, Genesis BCW.
Marketing guru Seth Godin famously said, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.” Never has that been truer than in 2020. In a year that has been especially harsh on startups, relationships have been at the core of those that have been able to pull themselves through. And those relationships have been formed because of evocative storytelling.
Re-connect to re-start
As we leave annus horribilis behind, there are many reasons for hope in 2021. Reboot, refresh, re-energise are going to be the mantras for recovery. But that’s not going to be enough. Re-connect will be just as important. There have been many startups that have had to shut shop this year and many others that have had to severely cut down their operations or even change their business models. If they want to reclaim their lost spaces or enter new ones, they must find a way to re-connect with all their stakeholders—customers, employees, partners, community, investors, the government, and whoever else is essential for their business to thrive. A multi-stakeholder approach is a must, because you will need all their support to help you bounce back.
Whether you have two or 200, employee communications will need to be your focus. Rallying your troops to make sure they are aligned to the new direction you have mapped out will be critical. For many, this year has been tough at a personal level, and you may have also had to cut salaries. So, you will need clear messaging to motivate them to get behind you in charting the revival. What’s more, if you are able to engage with them effectively, they will also turn into brand ambassadors for you, helping you connect better with your target audience.
Telling your story right
No matter who you are connecting with, there are three elements your communication must reflect—transparency, authenticity and creativity. Being transparent in where your business is at and what your plans are will help in building trust. Focus on doing rather than selling. People love brands that are focused on addressing their needs or solving their problems. And finally, creativity will help your message cut through the clutter. True creativity comes from tapping an insight to derive an idea that really speaks to the target audience. And in 2021, it will mean combining that insight-driven idea with digital innovation to not just convey your message but actually give your audience an immersive experience from your brand.
Preparedness is everything
If there is anything that 2020 has taught us, it is that those who prepare get a head-start on dealing with a crisis. Of course, this year, even the most prepared have also been blind-sided, but if you had crisis protocols in place, it was slightly easier to get back on your feet.
Many of us were quick to adapt to the newer ways of working and actually helping our clients and partners in their efforts. And that was all thanks to having a business continuity plan, which had communication at its core, in place.
Ultimately, though, communication is not just about the talk, but demonstrating that you are walking the talk. In the coming year, as the mad scramble towards recovery begins, the startups that can show that they are really true to their message will win the trust of all their stakeholders. And trust…will be the most important measure of valuation in this new year.