In my conversation with other leaders and business owners who must adapt how they deliver products and services or must shift their business models entirely, there is one analogy that resonated with me the most: the hierarchy of needs.

If you’re like us at Differly, most of our services tend to be at the mid-to-top of the pyramid of needs. Meaning if a company is doing fairly well in terms of stability and revenue, it now looks to scale and grow impact or reach. Perhaps they want to develop a loyalty program, accelerate operational efficiency, supercharge and modernize sales and marketing or develop a digital transformation road map.

Cue COVID-19 and everyone is now operating at the bottom of the pyramid.  Meaning, if your product or services don't help to address the continuity of a business or address an urgent need, your pitch is likely falling on deaf ears. Even if you’re one of the lucky companies with rising revenues at the moment (we need you by the way and good for you) some of your clients are likely at the base of the pyramid.

This analogy quickly shifted my thinking as a leader and I began to adjust our "core" services. I shifted the language on our home page, the text in my bio and in social media to focus on how I could be of service now:  “Helping organisations and leaders shift and adapt their business in a digital-first economy”.

I also communicated with the team and shared my thoughts on the core services we should be focusing on. In conversations with other leaders, I'm finding these three core questions to be the most impactful:

  1. What is your new messaging? Is there a shift in positioning that needs to happen? Example: I heard a great case study on the Building a StoryBrand Podcast of a florist who obviously had to shut down her locations. Sales dropped drastically. However, after shifting the messaging to: "Flowers are a great way to touch someone right now" ... online sales jumped.  People don't want flowers but they do need touch and connectivity at this time.

  1. How are you relevant right now? Do you need to shift your products and services to meet immediate needs? How?

  1. How can you create value? This could simply be with content. There has never been more eyeballs on screens. Those that continue to engage with their clients with helpful, relevant content will build enduring loyalty. Now by relevant, I mean steeped in your particular expertise and valuable to your core audience - not simply curating pandemic news that one can get anywhere, 24/7.  

We can't sell our way through this but on the other hand, you can't drive a parked car. How can you get your business into gear and moving until you hit the bridge to the other side of this?

Now, if I can get a pair of noise cancelling headphones strong enough to block out three screeching kids... good god. I’d be jumping up a couple of notches on my pyramid of needs.

About the author

Isabelle Perreault

Isabelle is the Founder and CEO of Differly. She has spent her career helping business leaders understand the major drivers of change and helping them survive and thrive in a digital economy. She brings deep expertise in business transformation, corporate and business model innovation and go-to-market planning.

For over 20 years, she has been helping leaders in a wide variety of sectors develop and deploy human-centric, tech-enabled growth strategies. Passionate about entrepreneurship she also serves as a business coach to Startups with several incubators. Prior to launching Differly, she led one of the first Digital Transformation Practices in Canada and was head of Digital Strategy and Marketing for the Ottawa Senators, NHL Hockey Club. Isabelle is Chair of the Ottawa Youth Services Bureau Foundation and a champion for women entrepreneurs.

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