In our last post (March 31st) we looked at how emerging high tech B2B companies should adjust their marketing in light of the Covid-19 lockdown.
That seems like a long time ago.
6 weeks on and the challenges facing businesses seem a lot more existential. Not necessarily your business (small high tech B2B) but across the board. Your entrepreneurial spirit will get you through this. I’ll bet you’ve done little else over the past 2 months but think of how you’ll get through. Do you need to pivot? Is your existing go to market plan still valid?
However you defined your target market, hopefully you had a laser focus on a specific market (a sector or specific business function within that sector). Is that market sill valid today and how would you know?
Here’s one thought on how to answer that question. Look at the ONS statistics for furloughed workers. If staff have been furloughed, I would suggest that’s not a good sign. Either the business has had to temporarily close down, or a portion of non-essential staff have been furloughed. Either way, there’s a strong potential that these furloughed staff are in a holding pattern for redundancy and, as such, that’s not a good target market. Corporate travel anyone?
The chart below is from the ONS and shows the percentage of staff furloughed by industry sector and by trading status of the employing businesses.
This is only a guide and data point. For example, public sector looks good but be wary the likely spending cuts coming down the line. Equally, construction has furloughed a lot of staff but will likely lead the country out of recession along with manufacturing.
There’s no exact science for this but lots of data publicly available. You need to interpret it correctly for your business. The key question is do you need to pivot? If your target market has been hit, will it return in a timely fashion? If not, then now is the time to pivot.
Where to pivot? Be creative. Get some fresh perspectives on your business. Working with the same team (senior management, advisors, investors) will ultimately limit your ability to innovate.
Be alert to new market opportunities arising. Pharma is an obvious sector where you would expect to see strong growth over the coming years but even within Pharma there are changes that present new opportunities. For example, the race for a Covid-19 vaccine is seeing unprecedented partnerships between the major players. “Unprecedented” was the term used by GSK CEO, Emma Walmsley to describe their partnership with Sanofi.
What opportunities might that present? One thought that sprung to mind was IP protection/management. How does that change when 2 behemoths partner and need to share intellectual property? Is that a simple change to the current modus operandi or might it present a great opportunity for a small B2B tech company needing to pivot?
Together with preserving cash, being agile around your target market is going to be critical in the years ahead. You’ve got this far, your ability to thrive on change will stand you in good stead.