- June 29, 2020

Becoming "Essential"​ Post-Covid

Tania Yuki
Tania Yuki
Chief Marketing Officer

We know the startup refrain ad nauseum… you need to be “need to have” vs “nice to have” – it’s potentially some of the most useless advice you ever get from VCs, who act like this maxim is some kind of revelation – sort of in the vein of ‘hire A players’, as if anyone intends to hire unsuccessfully instead.

What’s necessary vs ideal is something that can usually be debated well into the night, without final resolution. There isn’t a single company that strives to build products that are only bought when conditions are perfect and all of their customers’ real needs are already met, that are viewed as cool novelty…who would therefore not argue that their product is “need to have”. Yet here we are, and as many saas companies have begun realizing post Covid… most of their cool products are in fact nice-to-have at best.

In the context of data and measurement, it’s something that I’ve always pondered and struggled with. Obviously I feel that data is essential to business, but I’m the kind of person who believes in data so passionately that I quit my day job and started a whole company whose mission it is to bring data more effectively out to the world. So you can comfortably exclude my opinion here as one of the already converted.

Do you need to know your numbers, or your competitive positioning in order to breathe? Well, no. Loads of people have never stared into the dreamy brown eyes of a loaded excel spreadsheet and they live their lives just fine. Do you need insights, the answers to your most burning questions in order to make decisions? Well – no. People make decisions without information all the time, and the world keeps turning (less optimally maybe… but that’s neither here nor there).

So how then can we consider our industry as “need to have” in a post-Covid world? Budgets have been slashed, panic is widespread, everyone is tightening their belts considerably. If every company is racing back to basics, then surely measurement is one of the things that should go – right?

Here’s why I believe this is flawed thinking, and it is based on three core principles:

1) Companies need to do more with less now… and fast

Yes budgets are being cut… but the expectations of output are still high – perhaps higher than they were pre-Covid. This means that teams must decide where to focus, and to automate a lot of the more manual work (and thinking) that they used to rely on people for. That’s where data and technology come in – to help leaders make smarter resourcing decisions based on enough data to help them proceed with confidence, and to automate what was previously more manual. Speed is key here – and speed trumps perfection. Data will help embolden those who need to move quickly but are loathe to do so without any information to back their plays for fear of making a critical mistake.

2) Companies need to do different stuff – sometimes things they have never done before

Understanding how Covid has changed your business permanently versus reacting to what is merely temporarily is what most companies are grappling with right now… short term vs long term survival. And in many cases, business processes will need to change at a minimum, and likely overall products as well. For example - in the context of our business, from a business process standpoint we are thinking about how we can measure our customer’s happiness, when so much more will be done remotely and not in person? We will have to rely on clearer, data-driven measures and less qualitative feedback. In terms of the data we think about, I’m thinking a lot more about how we can be shedding light on micro, local-level opinions and sentiment because messaging can no longer be national given how differently each part of our country is experiencing their return to ‘normalcy’. Hyper targeted empathy has always been interesting, but it’s never been essential until now. Data is the only thing that can power first timers to anything, to become competent, at speed.

3) Companies will need to be closer to the consumer than ever before

What we used to be so certain about, about our consumer – what he/she cares about, their priorities, their values – are all being turned upside down as we’ve sat in a room for the last three months and reacquainted ourselves with our homes, our families, and our selves.

Yes – even those with big fat budgets who used to feel comfortable that they knew their consumer and have done for the last one hundred years, who could historically have been able to take a ‘shove it down the consumer’s throat’ approach to marketing, can no longer do so. The consumer will not have it. Marketing must be delivered as content, as empathy, as relevancy. And that takes understanding first – and an understanding that what is knowable will keep evolving as the world settles into its new groove. That requires data, and research, and a focus on insights so as to not mess it up. Because the consequences of messing up now are dire, and could be company-killing.

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