Finding Inspiration During Times of Crisis
Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.
The best ideas are often the ones we stumble upon– not because we sought them out, but because we had no other option. We’re beyond our last resort. But sometimes, they’re better than any ideas that came before.
Finding new ways to tackle old problems is not always easy. Finding new ways to tackle new problems can be even harder. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses not only had to advertise as usual, but prove that they were handling the situation safely and empathetically, all while figuring out how to run a business in this new, socially distanced world. This was especially hard on marketing and sales. One Marketing Automation platform looks much like the others; how do you stand out, and make sure you keep your business afloat? Companies were entangled in a race for social media tools, training and strategy.
What starts as a haphazard solution for one problem can, with time, become an asset to an entire industry. I think back to an early-Covid decision made by a restaurant near my house. They realized that they couldn’t stay open while following social distancing guidelines, so they quickly announced that they were still open for takeout. At the time, this seemed like a temporary (and flawed) solution– people were standing side by side, handling credit cards, and not wearing masks. Yet, this takeout-only setup soon flourished, as “curbside pickup” became household vernacular. With a few small changes, like bringing people’s food outside and paying over the phone, what started as a last resort became a new, thriving business model.
We’ve seen the same thing happen with our customers. In the process of solving an internal problem, a new product is born. I wondered if this principle was at work at Thought Horizon. In the midst of a global pandemic, when the Internet is one of the primary ways to continue advertising and connecting, how could we establish the strongest presence? Here’s what I came up with:
- Customized algorithms for posting content at the ideal time. We were wasting time posting at all hours until we started identifying the specific times we were getting engagement. The answer wasn’t straight-forward. It depended on the type of post and the subject. We figured out how to determine what post would do best when. This gave us a huge advantage with our social media. Recently, we even squeaked into the top 50 social selling brands. We are now consulting with clients on how to do the same.
- Paid promotion on social media. Again, we were using trial and error with our paid promotions when patterns started to emerge. We were sick and tired of paying top dollar and missing our target market. The patterns we saw helped us crack the code. Those same patterns are now helping our customers to get it right.
- Blogs. Blogs can be expensive and time-consuming to create–especially if you want them to make an impact using social selling and your sales team. We knew we needed to blog regularly to stay relevant in social media. In order to keep a quality feed and have time to do our client work we came up with a blog creation tool that has enabled us to be consistent bloggers without losing our edge.
- Sales training. We train all our new employees on how to use social selling. The feedback we get from those sessions is incorporated into the social selling training we offer for clients. Our training rarely fails to deliver when we train sales teams on the topic of social selling. Why? Because it is constantly being improved upon with what we are learning.
Even now, the solutions we’re looking for are often closer than we think. We have to re-frame the way we look at these problems, and view challenges as opportunities for growth. Without these difficulties, our business models would never change. And in a constantly changing world, we must be changing, too.