The latest DMM event “The Road to Business Recovery”, saw the organization venture into the world of online seminar as Elaine Fahy, Liam Horan, Samantha Kelly joined us via Zoom to give their thoughts and suggestions on how businesses can deal with the changes brought about by the ongoing pandemic.
Over an enlightening hour and a half, Elaine provided us with examples on how the companies that she interacts with in her position as a Radio Sales Specialist in iRadio, have pivoted in the last few months to stay afloat and indeed engage with new customers.
Liam, from the vantage point of his role as MD of Slí Nua Careers, gave his personal take on the how he sees the “new normal” unfolding and how we should always be ready for change, while Samantha discussed the importance of sharing knowledge, of working with others, seeking out new avenues and technologies and giving yourself the freedom to explore new ideas for the future.
Elaine gave us an insight into various industries, from retail firms to phone repair amongst others, with examples of how those firms reacted to the lockdown and how they pivoted their traditional customer services in new and innovative ways.
She emphasized the huge learning curve that each business is on, including the new health and safety changes that are now required.
The hotel and leisure industry was one of the biggest hit in the initial lockdown but some have innovated by doing deliveries, posting videos of the lengths they are going to ensure that hygiene is maintained to the highest level.
Education institutes have always been at home online but many now have had to adapt wholesale to ensure their students were able to finish their semesters. Services are still available but there are still many challenges to overcome Elaine pointed out.
Overall as Elaine pointed out, it is a difficult time for business but it is a good time to double down and ensure that they are there for their loyal customers and that they help their own staff in retraining when their industry re-open.
Liam Horan joined us next after Elaine’s excellent start and he noted how change is always around the corner in one guise or another, for business. Ten years ago during the last recession change was “thrust upon us” and Liam noted that that was around the time that he started his own business, Sli Nua Careers.
Interestingly, Liam had already decided to review the direction his business was going in before the Covid-19 situation kicked in, and he noted that it is a good idea to always take time to review your business, tweak your brand on an ongoing basis – even without a global pandemic!
He detailed the move into the “Horan Stand” an online ‘pub’ that saw people join friends in a virtual snug, an idea dreamed up as he was looking at different software and applications that he felt might be useful during the lockdown. The success of these small ideas led to hosting virtual coffee mornings for companies, setting up quizzes and even facilitating online meetings.
Liam said that change is inevitable and that no business is ever in stasis. While there is a temptation to see this as a massive moment in time, change happens all the time any way, and we move with it, we evolve all the time even in small ways. We have embraced online trading without barley breaking stride, so it shows how we can embrace big changes and keep moving forward.
He pointed out that one of the best things to do in this situation is to ensure you have a genuine connection with your customers, and while it can be tough to be genuine especially in bigger business, we have been given the opportunity to do that now.
He advocated getting back to basics, using the phone, going the extra mile gets people’s attention as does quality engagement. Sometimes fast growth can be too fast, so take your time and make sure you are doing it right and grow from there – five good, targeted emails are better than one thousand emails that don’t land the way you intend. “Done is better than perfect” was his takeaway on this point.
Samantha Kelly is one of the best known social media managers in Ireland and she is a firm advocate in being nimble and ready to change and innovate in any business you’re involved in. She gave us an insight into the different platforms that are out there and pointed out that it is always worthwhile to investigate and understand those platforms and how they might help your business. She gave the example of a contact of hers who has managed to open up her yoga classes online and now has people tuning in from all over the world – that is the opportunity that the internet provides.
If you’re unfamiliar with the platforms online, she said that now is the time to learn more about them – we have an opportunity to upskill. Follow decision makers, look for webinars. She herself started creating online workshops and told us how she always looks to innovate. It’s important to know the right people to approach and reach out to them to talk and learn from.
In a simple idea, Samantha said to set up Google Alerts to keep an eye on what is going on in your area of business and to see what other people are trying out, what is working for them.
She advocated buying local and keeping local businesses in mind across all areas, from website building to SEO analysis and everything in between. Supporting local, sharing posts of other local companies etc, it all brings business back into the local area and benefits everyone.
Samantha, who herself set up the #WomenInspire Network left the attendees with the request to be a leader in your local community, to help others in your community, and just as importantly to ensure balance in your life away from work as well! Sometimes the best you can do is just close the laptop, take a breath and go for a walk – minding your own mind is vitally important so make sure you get the balance right.
Thanks again to everyone who joined us for three great speakers who left us with plenty to ponder after our inaugural Zoom event!