Is your Value Proposition Authentic?

How to make your value proposition authentic-StratoServe

The Coronavirus pandemic has all types of organizations reviewing their value proposition. Whether you are a bricks business or a clicks business. Because, interactions between employees, employees with clients and suppliers were all affected.

Traditionally, the value proposition has been about what you “tell” the customer.For example, here are 7 Best Value Proposition examples from WordStream. And a comprehensive academic article by Payne,Frow and Eggert (2017) summarizes academic work in the field.

Since marketing is (only) about customer value, it’s important to look at the idea of value proposition and why and how it can be authentic.

Why your value proposition needs to be authentic

Before the Internet and Social Media you needed to have a team dedicated to dealing with public relations. Others in the organization or value chain were not supposed to talk to the press about the brand. There were a large number of journalists employed by media organizations and ad revenue helped fund a variety of stories. Consumers were interviewed by journalists (eg. doing a holiday gift story) – and those comments could become widely available. But this was very rare. Sometimes journalists would put out expanded stories based out of PR releases ( and PR and journalists were two sides of the same coin). Yes in times of a product recall and health concerns the media would be on top of the story following the “if it bleeds then it leads” principle.

The above scenario has changed radically with social media. Now traditional media considers highly popular or viralūüôā social media posts as important sources of building a story. PR departments may become extinct as the recent announcement by Tesla suggests. Similarly advertising is becoming much more in tune with society’s current priorities. Why? Because it’s very easy to find what’s on everyone’s mind from social media and web analytics. Once brands have a sense about what their target market is thinking- they fall in place with their messaging for the brand.

We believe that the word “proposition” has become misleading. It sort of promotes the USP ( Unique Selling Proposition) idea. USP suggests that you say how you are unique and different from the competitor. Value proposition assumes that it is not essential for the back end value partners to buy in to the value proposition. The value chain partners include the distribution channel like retailers and distributors, the organization and all its employees, suppliers and the supply chain.

So how do you make your value proposition authentic? Here are some thoughts: :

How to make your value proposition authentic

Stay with the value proposition with all stakeholders:Truth is simple but mixed messages to different stakeholders is complicated.As pointed out the value proposition is historically a “pre-sales” kind of thing. In fact, many organization from consulting, factory machinery and complex software projects the value proposition is handled by the pre-sales team. And then there is a different team that implements. Everyone has access to social media. This implies that if there is any mismatch between what the company says and does- you can expect to hear about it. More vocally for negative customer experiences. So it makes sense to stay with the truth of what you are promising your customer. It keeps things simple and if you communicate intensely your employees, suppliers, distributors and other stakeholders will hear you. And they will support you. Everyone understands that the B2C customer pays the bills.

Revisit your value proposition often: The company mission statement tends to be diffuse and generally derived from discussions within the company. It tends to be internally focussed. Everyone feels happy after a mission statement exercise but the customer point of view is not front and center. It’s probably better to have the value proposition guide all operations in every product line. And yes, the value proposition should align with your mission statement.Value propositions at the product line level is a good idea. Because, the same group of suppliers, production, distributors. ad agencies are involved. Thus, if you manufacture and market washing machines, it very unlikely that you would have different ad agencies for each model of washing machine. Also most suppliers of components for all the washing machine product line would be common.

Start and End all meetings with the value proposition for the product line: Whether you are meeting your ad agency, market research agency, production folks, suppliers start with referencing the value proposition for the product line. Why? because it reminds everyone of what you are trying to deliver to the customer. And addressing issues become clearer. If you end all meetings with the value proposition- people are likely to think how well a particular decision supports the customer value proposition.

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Move from Perfection to Excellence

Perfection vs. Excellence- StratoServe

In the Coronavirus age (yes it’s just six months but seems like an age!) there are great challenges and no “re-opening” strategy seems to be perfect. Organizations can just try to do their best (be excellent) instead of trying to be perfect. The virus is invisible and thus it brings the “Excellence vs. Perfection” dilemma into sharp focus.

The “Excellence vs. Perfectionism” is a debate that is prominent in psychology Here is an article from Psychology Today that favors excellence over perfectionism. Brene Brown the “Vulnerability/Shame” guru puts it nicely in her interview with Oprah.

Our parents want us to be perfect, our teachers want us to be perfect, our spouse wants us to be perfect, we want our children to be perfect, at work the boss wants us to be perfect, colleagues want us to be perfect. Even friends want us to be perfect.

Or are these just our perception? If so, it is extremely limiting to our growth as individuals and companies. Here is why:

Excellence has a deadline Perfection is never ending: Think of your own social media behavior. Why do you hesitate to post something? Because you are worried about being judged. Most businesses keep trying to perfect their content and eventually it loses relevance. On the other hand, excellence is an internally focussed metric. You did your best and put it out there. One reason that journalists, TV writers are productive is because their job involves deadline. The show must air! The viewership and ratings may sometimes disappoint but the content is out there. On the other hand academics work on deadlines only for conferences. For journals, academics take a long time trying to perfect their work. The “blind peer review” of academic papers are ruthless and even Nobel Prize winners, as anonymous authors, are not spared ! But then the purpose of academic discourse is to advance science and you write up your research to try and convince your peers.

Excellence is internally focussed Perfection is externally focussed: The motivation for perfectionism is the fear of being criticised. Or the fear of ridicule. In short, “fear” drives perfectionism. Striving for excellence on the other hand, is competing with yourself for quality. If you do reach perfection by your own reckoning there is no room for improvement. You lose a learning orientation. In contrast, when you strive for excellence and do your best, you know that there is scope for improvement. You have a learning orientation.

Excellence has a Learning Orientation -Perfection is already perfect:By definition perfection is perfect! Organizations that have leaders who want “perfection” don’t admit failure or mistakes. Mistakes in anything, to anyone including themselves! This can lead to close mindedness at the organizational level. It goes away from a growth mindset and stops inter-departmental learning and communication. This in turn hinders innovation as this highly cited article by Calantone,Cavusgil and Zhao (2002) explains.

Excellence spurs innovation Perfection hinders innovation. As a striver for excellence you are ready to learn from all and improve. Innovation becomes possible as you are ready to experiment, learn and try again.Perfection is like the end of story. You get stuck on one “S” curve of innovation while new competitors come along with radically improved offerings.

To summarize, it’s far better for organizations and individuals to strive for excellence rather than try to be perfect. We do hope that the pandemic will be behind us soon.

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Why marketing is about customer value – and not social media

Marketing is about value-Labor Day 2020 -StratoServe

Ask anyone – What is marketing? And you’ll get answers like advertising, social media or mobile marketing. Others, who have taken a formal marketing class, will say 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). This is surprising and at the root of any marketing effort that fails or provides a less than hoped results. And as anyone who has tried to market anything has learnt – marketing results tend to disappoint. Unless, the marketer is razor focussed on the customer and their perceived value.

The American Marketing Association has spent enormous hours in defining marketing. And this definition is in every marketing book starting from high school. And yet…. the confusion…

Why this acute confusion? Here are some thoughts:

Advertising and Social Media are more visible? : Social media is everywhere, all the time. If anyone has lots of social media followers- it’s because they provide value to their audience. Just look at at the “Table of Contents” of any marketing textbook. There is a reason that Advertising and Social Media appears towards the end of the book. The target market,product,price,place all have the value baked in. The last step is promotion which includes social media, and depends on the previous steps. Thus, the advertising agency must truly understand the client industry and domain. When you as a customer do buy something because of an ad, the product must provide you value. If so, you would buy again and recommend it to your friends-often on social media.

Marketing evolved from Sales: Marketing in its “value” form evolved from age old “sales”. In sales, the salesperson tries to sell what he/she has already got to sell. Here the sales mantra is to “sell what is selling”. And denounce what is not selling! More commissions and hailed as a hero, it makes more sense to sell products that have value clarity.

Top sales performers are rainmakers and respected as heroes across the organization. Except when consumers value perception changes…

Recall the famous case of Encyclopedia Britannica in book form that sold door to door. When the PC (personal computer) emerged in the mid 1980″s the customer got a free one compact disk “Grolier encyclopedia.” Folks at the Encyclopedia Britannica realized that the computer was going to change the game. And yet no salesperson could make the $600 commission on a CD. Resistance from the sales force was so high that Britannica was unable to change its business model. The internet was to come over a decade later and then there was Wikipedia and Google.

The consumer is always changing: Effective B2B sales people know about value in marketing. They can understand early in the sales process whether the client sees value in the product offering. Then they spend more time with prospects who are more appreciative of their product’s value.

Driving B2B is B2C. When consumers change, B2C changes and B2B must change as well. Clayton Christensen recounts about the computer disk drive industry. Given a choice consumers would prefer a personal computer that does not occupy a lot of desk space. And that preference drove the preference in B2B supply chain for smaller disk drives. The legacy large disc drive manufacturers became extinct.

There are many examples of changing consumer behavior. A widespread change in young people is that they prefer cell phone text/social media messaging to a phone call. Think of how many times you see young people “talking” on the phone? At the other demographic end are the elderly. It’s astonishing how much people adopted the mobile phone, apps and social media during the Coronavirus pandemic.You may be old and high risk but once you set your mind to it, you can (and do) order groceries through the grocery app!

You can be sure that all the technology enabled processes like apps, family zoom meetings will augment life after COVID.

There always will be some folks who see value in your product

Remember that there will always be some customers who think that your product is of value. And today digital marketing allows you to reach those loyalists online. Thus it is possible for a singer to find a thousand listeners on iTunes or Spotify. The challenge is whether your market is big enough to generate enough revenue for your goals.

We wish our dear readers a very Happy Labor Day weekend in the US. We ask everyone to follow local public safety guidelines. We will soon put the Coronavirus behind us!

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Direct Mail through USPS -why now?

The heart gladdens to see the USPS van although there might be a few direct mail pieces and some bills.

People are at home. And now that there is agreement that incoming mail and packages don’t bring in the Coronavirus, it’s time to look at dear old direct mail again. And the time is now for all US businesses.

This blog is a strong supporter of the USPS. Because the postal system workers have always been “essential workers” deeply embedded in the community. The Coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the great community service that the postal employees do.

Here is why/how you should consider Direct Mail/Advertising Mail in the pandemic world:

USPS in the news

USPS is in the news for mail in votes in the November US Presidential Elections and here is a BBC story that summarizes the issues. We were delighted to note that there talk of USPS funding of $25 Billion. This will probably help with additional infrastructure that would allow USPS to provide improved delivery times.

As our previous USPS-Direct Mail posts over the years indicate, this seems to be the first time , that everyone realizes the importance of USPS. In the past, before Coronavirus, it was that Direct Mail “is dead.” It was only digital going forward.

Digital Marketing owes a lot to Direct Mail

If you think about it, most digital marketing principles originate in the world of direct mail. The notification alerts for social media, email and messages on your phone grew out of AOL’s famous “You’ve Got Mail” chime. The digital world was trying to capture the anticipation and excitement of new mail. Today there are so many notifications that you need to turn them off. This deluge of digital messages is our argument for another look at direct mail.

Direct mail starts with a prospect with a known mailing address. This data comes in when you ship a purchased item to the individual. Before the digital world you had no way of tracking someone who entered your physical store but did not buy. Now you can remarket to a web visitor because they leave a digital but anonymous footprint on the website. In addition, there is profuse data about individuals browsing behavior that can help narrow down your prospect. For example, if you know that certain sports lovers buy from your e-commerce store, you can target advertising to those sports lovers as they visit sports sites. At the core of all this is the direct marketing mailing list and a history of past purchases.

If you have digital analytic data for your website it is possible to narrow down a mailing list that is pretty effective.

What is the number of direct mailers per day?

In the US about 182 million pieces of mail are delivered every day. Estimated US population of 328 million in 2019 has about 78% adults over 18 or about 256 million adults. By this calculation the average postal mail received is less than two pieces by every person over 18 in the US. Okay some days a household might have more postal mail but it would rare that an individual would get 10 or more letters in a day!

Contrast this with email. People get at over 126 emails a day. That is about a hundred times more than direct mail. We are far more likely to read a direct mail piece than an email. Just the brand hanging around the house for an estimated 17 days is great for the marketer. Some more interesting data on direct mail is here.

To summarize, now is the time for you to try Direct Mail if you had exited that platform. People are at home and adirect mail piece, properly targeted can do wonders for your B2B or BC product.

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B2B opportunities after COVID

B2B opportunities after COVID- StratoServe

COVID 19, the Coronavirus, will eventually go away. But consumer behavior would have changed forever. And all B2B opportunities will change for all B2B exists because consumers (B2C) does. If you are a B2B marketer there is a consumer down the line who pays. This applies to B2B marketers of aircrafts to small hardware.When consumers change behavior and preferences change B2B offerings need to change. The best old B2B product becomes irrelevant when there is no consumer at the other end. See our Derived Demand in Marketing post to understand why B2B depends on B2C.

States like New York have started to reopen after reaching low COVID infection rates. Here are some thoughts about opportunities for B2B marketer:

Helps Covid Coping

Does your product/service Help Covid Coping?

Then you have great demand for the next year or so. These include manufacturers of masks and sanitizers. Our friends in the facilities maintenance industry are very busy as different organizations try to re-open. Cleaning and sanitizing buildings seems to be an unending cycle. Similarly, COVID testing services have booming demand as have the COVID vaccine makers and manufacturers who can scale the vaccine.

There are also a multitude of technological solutions and apps that try to keep track of individual Covid exposure, testing (Update December 2020 Vaccination )results. These give comfort to all kinds of organization from healthcare to education that are trying to minimize risk for all. Then there are numerous process changes which will endure after COVID. As an example, if you buy auto insurance you are encouraged to get your own printout of the insurance card that must be kept in your vehicle.

If you filed tax returns through tax software like Turbo Tax you would be used to uploading scanned documents. However, if you used an accountant- the chances are that you needed to provide scanned copies this year and also 2021. Why? because everyone was working from home. And it’s too hard to open the office and access the high speed scanner. By and large individuals got used to scanning and printing at home. The phone apps for scanning work surprisingly well. It’ll be interesting to watch if printing and copying reduces within organizations as everyone becomes more comfortable with digital documents.

Some parts of the economy that were given up for millennials are seeing an upsurge. Uber/Lyft is being partly replaced by car buying-just for perceived Covid safety. Similarly, millennials realize that working from home needs a decent home so home buying is up. Surprisingly manufactured food like cereal is up and cooking at home has picked up. Fintech and apps like Robinhood has given a boost to the younger investor.All these changes give hope to B2B suppliers who were experiencing negative sentiment from younger folks pre-Covid.

Hurts Covid Coping

Does your product/service hurt Covid coping in the short run? Then read on…

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected all activities that depend on people getting together for any purpose. All forms of travel and tourism, sports and musical events, schools and colleges, churches and places of worship, malls and retail are hard hit. Within each category- establishments that have no space for social distancing are hardest hit like bars and pubs in crowded cities. B2B opportunities and upstream supply chains are completely disrupted. Thus, the beer that goes into beer kegs for bars had to be thrown away, just as school milk .

If you are a supplier to anything that involves low social distance you can expect things to get better only in 2021. It’s a good time though to look at new ways of working digitally. Restaurant owners are still not allowed to have indoor dining in large parts of the US. Food delivery services (like GrubHub and Uber Eats) demand a large commission from what is only a take-out business. Local restaurants take direct phone orders and if you pick-up yourself they are grateful. Direct restaurant order and payment software would see an uptick, going forward. Just as, grocery chains have accelerated online order and delivery.

In both teaching and medicine, online processes have accelerated during the pandemic. After COVID we can expect online learning to remain as an important pillar of teaching and learning. Telemedicine is likely to augment doctor/s visits and provide for a better overall patient experience.

In retail, Amazon is looking to convert malls to distribution warehouses. Since closed malls will reduce local employment Amazon is offering local logistical partner opportunities. In other words, brick mall retail seems to be nearing its day of reckoning much faster after COVID.

The Coronavirus misery will continue for a year or more, but it has speeded up digitization in a big way. Changes that might have taken 10-20 years anyway, will happen in a year or two. All businesses and their supply chains will be able to decide what parts of their business model can be moved online.

And it is in digitization that every B2B Marketer will find new opportunity.

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Content Creators: Would Mark Twain have written 4000 words a day during the Spanish Flu of 1918?

One of the most delightful places to see in Hartford, Connecticut is the Mark Twain House. This is where Mark Twain did the bulk of his writing. There is an upper floor where you see the writing table and ink pens that he dipped in ink and wrote. Twain apparently wrote 4000 words a day according to our tour guide. The word counter blog suggests that he wrote between 1400-1800 words a day. That’s a lot if you need to dip the pen in an ink pot after every few words.

This blog has been somewhat sporadic ever since the March Coronavirus shutdown. To get inspired we looked at the Mark Twain wikipedia page just to check if Mark Twain was around in 1918. Alas, Twain died in 1910. But given the intrepid nature of the legend, we are sure that Twain would have kept pushing out content, had he been around in 1918 and the Spanish Flu.

The Coronavirus has challenged everyone globally. However, all content creators can get inspired by some popular nuggets from Mark Twain.

  • Get started: One of Twain’s famous quotes is “The secret of getting ahead is getting started“. Whether you run social media content, you tube videos, blogs there is a block to getting started. Once you start you can get it done!
  • Simplicity: ‚ÄúI never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman because I can get the same money for cop.” This one is quite incredible given that it is over hundred years old. There was no television, internet or social media yet Twain knew that you are writing to communicate. And not to win the Spelling Bee! The same applies to video, tweets and instagram or whatever.
  • Productivity: Mark Twain had a time and place i.e. daytime and a desk. And he worked from home, like many folks during the Coronavirus pandemic. He would complete his writing for the day in what seems to be a very disciplined manner.
  • The Twain White Suit and Marketing: Twain wore white suits on the lecture circuit and anywhere there was press. For newspapers were black and white and the white suit made him stand out. Twain was conscious and tried hard to market his work. Many more readers would know about Twain given the social media and Internet today!
  • Revenue model and copyright fight: Twain fought valiantly for intellectual property right. Copyright meant that he and his heirs could earn from his books over time. By 1909 the Copyright act brought the total period to 56 years. Finally in 1976 American Authors were given copyright for life and fifty years forward as this nice article from USPTO explains.

We hope that content creators in the digital age will get inspired to keep plugging away. We will eventually work through the Coronavirus.

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Happy July 4th: Why think about life after the COVID Pandemic?

 American Flag and Sparkler
Tomorrow is July 4th, 2020 the American Independence day.  It is a day celebrating hope and freedom for all people.Traditional firework displays have been cancelled in regions where there is an upsurge of COVID cases. However, there are some options to watch fireworks  and here is a nice list of virtual fire work displays.

Here is our July 4th post from 2008, in the midst of the great recession.It’s really important to start thinking about life after the global coronavirus (COVID) pandemic…. because like the great recession, we will overcome this.¬† Here is why we should all be hopeful this 4th of July:

  1. We adapt better after each catastrophic event: Call it the ability of the human species to survive and treat every dire necessity as the mother of invention! We tend to develop institutions and mechanisms after every catastrophic event. Thus, the United Nations after World War, Homeland Security after 911, quicker financial support actions after the great recession of 2008. It is the experience of 2008 that prompted the US Government to support people  much bigger and quicker in 2020 than 2008. In the case of the coronavirus, although cases are rising  the death rate is declining  according to the CDC.
  2. ¬†Rejoice -the death rate declining: As noted in an earlier post, the virus needs a host. If the host is too sick and can’t meet (infect ) anyone and the virus can’t survive. This is the reason public health authorities were locking down and that was killing off the virus which had literally – nowhere to go.¬† The other factor is that the medical folks have developed a great deal of expertise with the ailment and these include many treatment options that were unknown at the early stage of the pandemic. Older folks and people with pre-existing conditions are at greater risk of death so everyone needs to be particularly careful with this vulnerable segment.
  3. Face Masks, Hand washing, Social Distance and Outdoors help-a lot: Social Distance and outdoors help put some distance for the virus to travel and that reduces the chance of infection.Face masks prevent spread of the virus from an asymptomatic patient.It appears that 40-50% of the spread is from asymptomatic patients. Wearing a mask if you have no symptoms but are carrying the virus (i.e. asymptomatic) stops the spread.It turns out that  face masks also protect the wearer.
  4. Coexisting with COVID -assume that the Coronavirus is endemic: The idea of a disease being endemic is that is there and you have to learn to live with it. For example, if you visit parts of Africa and Asia that have endemic malaria, its good to take malaria tablets ahead of your visit and try and cover yourself with mosquito repellant and avoid mosquito bites. Similarly if the Coronavirus is going to be around and vaccines will take time it’s best to think of face masks, hand washing¬† and social distance as the equivalent of the mosquito repellant. Doing so, will enable us to¬† co-exist with the virus.
  5. The next pandemic will have much better global response:  Epidemiologists are convinced that there are many more different pandemics that will emerge due to the thousands of viruses that might jump from animals to humans and start spreading. We can be sure that that the global response will be far more robust. The global pressure on all countries where such pandemics originate is now such that, in the future you can be sure that such viruses will not leave the town where the virus originates.

In the meanwhile, here is a simple way to prepare for a post pandemic world in 2021 once vaccines are widely available:

Learn a digital skill relevant to your industry or functional expertise. For the coronavirus has truly unleashed the power of digitization in every aspect of life. Grocery stores and restaurants are taking online/phone orders and online/phone payments. This online/phone combination can be seen in banks, education, healthcare, manufacturing, movies, retail,  sport, public safety, entertainment  and everything else. There is a huge opportunity to perfect the digital channel in 2020 while folks are still in lockdown. Consumer behavior will change forever and if there is anything positive from the pandemic Рit is the acceleration of digital. It will grow all markets because the combination of physical/virtual will open up global markets like never before.

We wish our readers a very happy 4th of July!

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Why Reopening America in the Summer of 2020?

Reopening Coronavirus StratoServe
Today (May 20, 2020) all US states have reopened partially after two months of lockdown. This has left many of our readers wondering why America is reopening when Coronavirus infections and deaths keep increasing ? Here are some thoughts on this question:

Summer is Fun in America :¬† Think of all the fun¬† Hollywood movies set in summer. If you look at Google¬† trends in the last 30 days you realize¬† that even states that do not have very cold winters – summer is important. Traditionally, summer is when kids are not at school. Despite huge celebrations of the calendar new year Americans live more by the school calendar.¬† Summer is when you have Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer and it’s interesting that all states have decided to re-open before Memorial day in 2020 which is May 25, Monday. It’s quite amazing that politicians from both parties criticize each other exuberantly in public at the local, state and federal level and yet no one is staying entirely shut down by Memorial day.

Summer is tourism season:¬† If travel and tourism does not limp back over the summer of 2020, it’ll be really hard to start everything in the summer of 2021. While people may not travel far but you can be sure that local attractions will have good crowds. There is a lot of local government intervention if people ignore rules for face masks and social distancing.¬† Local governments at the town level are very important because they provide all emergency services, schools and collect property taxes to pay for these services.

Government¬† Bailouts are rare in America: Folks globally hear a lot about American bailouts to businesses and individuals. Since individualism is a core value in America, people do not rely on Government as far as possible. The Government also tries to stay out of peoples lives except for support to the most vulnerable. If you are employable, you are on your own. Seen in this backdrop, the idea¬† of the “Paycheck Protection Program” is motivated by the need to finance businesses to keep their employees.¬† For if a business fires its employees, everything truly grinds to a halt. Even in low skilled¬† jobs if the business is closed and employees fired – there is a whole new cost associated with finding employees, training them once the business starts.

Coronavirus New Cases¬† are down:¬† The new cases of coronavirus infections are down as are are death rates. It’s fascinating to look at the state and county data at the CDC website. Given access to data and much better testing of infection and antibodies local leaders are in a much better position to manage the re-opening effectively.

Coronavirus needs a host: The coronavirus needs a host where it replicates. With lockdowns the hosts were away so the coronavirus could not find hosts and hence the decline in cases. The COVID 19 realizes that if it makes the host very ill or the host dies then it dies too. There is thus an emerging view that COVID 19 might be causing less harm to hosts to stay alive like other viruses like SARS etc. which are around but less severe.  Disclaimer: We claim no medical expertise. Please ask your doctor.

All in all, we do hope and pray that all the US re-openings go well. People are aware and co-operating with rules, Businesses are eager to get back and the disease surveillance is in place.

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How work-life will change after coronavirus

With the experience of  coronavirus COVID 19 lockdowns work-life will change forever. With 91% US kids at home parents are spending more time than ever with children. Some parents have jobs that allow digital work and these folks are so lucky. Then there are the  struggling 25 million unemployed in the travel, tourism, retail and any type of jobs that require a physical presence. At the other end of essential workers are the beleaguered medical worker, true heros, who show up every day to work. No less valiant are factory workers, grocery retail workers, law enforcement folks who are keeping essential services working. For everyone in each of these situations the pandemic has been trying as the USA tries to reopen. Going forward here is how work life will change:

  1. Residential real estate and families will be more important: For those who enjoy a lifestyle where most time is at work or out of home leisure – homes were just a “place to sleep” . For these folks “stay at home”¬† has been particularly trying. In urban settings living quarters are cramped, and it’s hard to stay indoors. Moving forward there should be an uptick in residential real estate as folks realize that the next pandemic should place them in better situation. Also there should be an increase in renovations and upgrades and the associated industries. But perhaps the lockdown has had the greatest impact on the bonds within families. Never before have parents and kids spent so much time together. The situation has been stressful but unexpectedly joyous!
  2. Work from home and digitization will increase: Wherever possible, all types of organizations will encourage work from home. People realize that if you can eliminate “set-up” time for face to face meetings then you can really enjoy very productive meetings. The “set-up” time is your drive time, stuck in traffic time, waiting for the person you went to meet time etc. However, the face-to-face meeting will assume new significance. People will try and meet face-to-face to allow continuity in their interactions.
  3. Share your screen and share what exactly you are going through: A big¬† advantage of video¬† (eg. Zoom meetings)¬† are that you can share your screen. For teaching and learning it’s just incredible. For those of our readers who have used Facebook Marketing support -you know why the ability of sharing your screen is so incredible. The starting point¬† becomes the experience and understanding of the customer. Above is a fun example of a home services company who is trying to understand the customer’s problem. Perhaps some “paid” telemedicine in plumbing could be a revenue source.
  4. Leisure will become purer: Although travel and tourism is in a tough spot right now Рthings should turn around soon. Cruise lines are taking bookings for August 2020. In fact Carnival Cruises are reporting  a 600% increase in booking for August 2020.
  5. Take out restaurant food will boom: As a  market segment take out food will increase a great deal. Restaurants who are trying to stay in business during the pandemic have innovated a lot. Innovations include meal configuration that move well in take-out containers and touch-less curbside pick up. The delivery piece should also be a growing opportunity that Uber is trying to grab with the $6 Billion acquisition of GrubHub. The large 20-30%  commissions of order by app folks is a matter of concern for restaurant owners. Perhaps for self pickup Uber could charge a much lower commission

The need of the hour is to re-open safely and prudently. Local,State and Federal leaders have to balance “lives and livelihoods”.

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Coronavirus: Why is the panic so acute?

MonaLisa Coronavirus StratoServe

Note that this post was written on March 3,2020 – trying to be cheerful. Update March 19, 2020. Stay home even if you are not sick. Stop the spread!

It’s hard to remain calm when one was expecting the Dow index to cross 30k and it’s in the 26K range. – in a matter of days despite interest rate reduction.. If the Louvre museum is closed and Mona Lisa has a mask things are getting serious. Coronavirus is dangerous but the panic is even more dangerous. Why is the panic so acute? Here are some thoughts:

  • The world is global: People travel – a lot- and economies are intertwined through business, education and tourism. People to people contact has increased tremendously in the last decade with the increase of social media. Even when you are not travelling you are in touch with whatever is going on. For inquiring minds who want to know “Coronavirus – (name of country)” on Google will reveal more than what you want to know.For the TV minded legacy media folks – the news channels are fanning the frenzy. Mike Mulvaney the Trump Chief of Staff suggested stopping watching TV, to calm the stock market. Great idea, but hard to do….. because…
  • Slow motion Horror Movie: The Horror movie genre has crossed $1 Billion and is a high growth segment of the movie industry as per Variety magazine. And you are getting a slow motion movie unfolding on TV complete with a global cast, reporters all over the world trying to keep that right “panicked but brave” look.
  • Politics is local: Politics is local because local people vote.¬† Politicians are held accountable and taking action like closing schools,quarantine seem like forceful actions and the watch words seem to be “we are doing enough”.
  • Supply Chain Risk: is one of the fundamental concepts in managing risk in supply chains. The basic idea is that you never source any physical goods from any one factory. Naturally larger factories become cheaper and it’s hard for supply managers to justify why they source more expensive product from a different country or location. In the digital world – things are simpler because you can have software in the cloud and that is physically backed up in different places.
  • Value Chain Impact:¬† The back end of the value chain to the organization is the supply chain and the front end¬† of the distribution channel including the wholesaler and retailer to consumer is the distribution channel. If people don’t travel then industries from airlines, cruises,¬† sporting events are all affected. And this slows down the back end supply chain and the all associated economic activity. The run on face masks, liquid soap and sanitizers is not helping calm the panic.
  • Social Media Frenzy: Just open your social media including Whattsapp and be surprised by the amazing types of cures and prevention techniques that are being shared around.

On  a more serious note a 1.4 to 2 % mortality rate for the coronavirus COVID-19, is very serious when compared to the 0.1% mortality rate in the seasonal flu. It turns out that most of the mortality is among older people with underlying health conditions. But if you are older and have health conditions there is the Framingham score of your cardiac risk in the next 10 years.

One guesses  that the prospects of 2% mortality within weeks does sound more scary than 2 % cardiac risk in the next ten years! It is probably the imminent threat is what is causing the panic. Younger people at lesser risk seem more worried about quarantine uncertainties.

We will overcome this soon and as the Corona virus slows down, maybe we’ll all become more alert to respiratory infections and be more amenable to taking¬† timely flu shots that should hopefully contain an antidote by the next flu season. Meanwhile washing hands frequently and staying home if you feel sick is all that is needed.

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