Last week, my colleagues and I had a chance to participate in Nordic Business Forum 2016 in Helsinki. The event gathered over 5,700 business-minded attendees and more than 30 nationalities together in Helsinki on 6-7 October. The main theme for this year was Advantage. During the two-day event, we got to hear talks about digitalization, marketing, and culture. Each of the talks was different, but there were specific tips that were provided that can help organizations gain a competitive advantage in their markets.
Des Traynor, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom, stated at the beginning of his speech that the only constant for us is change. And the only thing that has changed is everything. As digitalization enables a lot, it also changes a lot. In addition, we must change along with it before it is too late. We have to understand that consumers today live on mobile. Inevitably, the concept of us consuming information and making business decisions on mobile is also already here.
Think, for example, about learning. Not too long ago, learning and development in organizations were connected to formal and time-consuming training. Now, digitalization allows us to learn anywhere, with any preferred device, and whenever it is the most suitable for us. This saves both time and money – from organizations and learners. Whatever your business is, think about how digitalization affects it and what kinds of opportunities it offers for your business. Otherwise, technology will run you over and someone will take your business.
Offer value and interaction
What is the scarcest resource today? Time. And what do traditional ads do? Steal time away from us. One of my absolutely favorite speakers in the forum was the Co-Founder and CEO of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk. He, as well as the marketing guru Seth Godin, pointed out that traditional marketing will die out because people are hungrier for value and more appreciative of time. Thus, marketers should focus on offering value-added content and interaction with their audience. Tell stories, be bold, and reach for those who are on the edges. Today, there are many great tools for reaching narrow customer segments. Choose the one that suits you the best and can help you to create accurately targeted and personalized digital experiences for your audience according to their interests.
Can you think of a magazine that people read in your industry? Vaynerchuk encourages companies to try to be that magazine, to be a media company! All of us can certainly write an article about our own expertise, which again benefits our customers. By really knowing your target audience, you are able to offer them well-optimized content that they will find remarkable and worth sharing. Don't focus on how to do things the right way. Instead, think about how to do them interestingly. If you manage to do that, your audience will share the content not only with their friends and family but also with their colleagues and managers.
Explore and be curious
In this time of digital transformation, we have to accept the fact that things change, and they change fast. Our business models should do the same. None of us can predict the future. Thus, Vaynerchuk encourages everyone to explore new ways of operating. Particularly if you own your own business, you should take the time to understand the latest technologies, including different social media channels. Not all social media channels will bring your business additional value at the moment, but understanding how they work can also help you to understand the bigger picture of technological development.
Whatever business strategy you decide to follow, remember that the change begins with your employees. Like Vineet Nayar, Former CEO of HCL Technologies and Author of Employees First, Customers Second, said, as a leader, you must create trust among your employees in order to have them follow you. When there is trust, then the employees are truly able to represent their organization in the best possible way. That is then the precise time that we are able to create unique customer experiences. Now it is time to seize the advantage!
Picture: Nordic Business Forum / Press