Where were you on 9-11?
Despite that date being roughly 6,800 days ago, it’s likely that you also remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard of the attacks. And it’s almost certain that you have no memory of the day before.
That’s because we live life in human time, where some days are bigger than others, and not in chronological time, where every day is equal.
From BC to DC to AC
Because human time differs from chronological time, it’s likely that the last few weeks feel different from the weeks that preceded them. That’s because we have just passed a major marker in our human timelines – from BC time (before COVID) to DC time (During COVID) and eventually to AC time (after COVID).
To put this in perspective, the BC/AC marker is the most recent of seven major markers of the last century, starting with the so-called “Spanish Flu” that COVID is so frequently compared with. In fact, these markers have such a powerful shaping influence on our lives that they become defining characteristics of entire generations.
A few points worth noting here:
- Only two of the seven markers started as economic issues. Three were bellicose (Pearl Harbor / WW2, JFK assassination, 9-11) and two were medical – the Spanish flu and the current COVID crisis, or “Great Infection”.
- The prior generational market that most resembles the ‘Great Infection’ is the Great Depression, which lasted for 6-11 years, depending on how you measure it.
- Finally, we must note that this is a US-focused list. The events and dates would differ for other people groups, but the concept would be the same.
This broader historical perspective points us to three observations about the AC future…
#1: The future is personal
What I notice about these markers is how differently each event is experienced, depending on one’s age at the time. While everyone alive at that time experienced them, we usually think of them having the most shaping influence on young adults.
For example, I remember hearing how my mother, age seven, responded to news of the Pearl Harbor attack. For her, the news of a coming war meant a ruined Christmas. It had a much more profound impact on the young men and women who were shipped overseas or who worked in the munition factories.
Do you have high school or college students in your family or life? In the current crisis, think about all the high school and college seniors who are missing the 2020 graduations they had been anticipating for four years. They are classmates of the classes that never had a graduation… and will have a really bad economy to find their first job. That will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
#2: The future is not evenly distributed
While it’s true that everyone is susceptible to COVID – even the Prime Minister of the UK can be infected — there are great differences in likelihood of exposure, of any infection, or of severe infection.
Compared with the health threat posed by COVID, there is even wider variation among people in the economic threat:
- Likelihood of financial impact / disruption,
- Severity of financial hardship, and the
- Ability to rebound financially.
In other words, the economic impact is not evenly distributed. It varies tremendously by sector and function. Some sectors and functions (travel & tourism, food services, entertainment, sports, marketing) have been devastated while others are less impacted (utilities, CPG, accounting, public school teachers, medical workers).
Even if we are not in these sectors, our exposure to these sectors (reflecting who our customers are or where we live) will have a great impact on our COVID experience.
#3: The future will leave us changed
COVID will have another impact: it will reshape HOW we work going forward. The WFH movement was catapulted years ahead in a matter of days.
A colleague of mine was told he could not work from home just hours before his entire company was ordered to work from home for the foreseeable future.
The way companies make decisions – including buying decisions – may be permanently altered. The assumptions and intelligence about
- who your buyers are
- why they favor you or competitors
- how they select solutions and
- where they get information to solve business problems…
…has likely been altered in ways that make your BC marketing plans seem positively pre-historic. At the least, they all should be re-examined.
The four questions you need to be asking
It’s the dawn of the “next normal.” If you’re running any sort of business, you need to re-examine your BC assumptions in the AC world. It is likely some important truths from the winter will steer you wrong this summer. Here are the four strategic questions you should be re-asking after COVID:
- How can I retain my customers now? What is the value I can bring in their new environment?
- How do my prospects make buying decisions now? How can I win them?
- What should my optimal positioning and value proposition be?
- What is my most effective go-to-market strategy now?
How will you take advantage of this crisis?
No matter how well your strategy was planned and executed for the BC world, it needs a strategic second look for the AC world. We can provide a free sounding board or independent perspective.
If you would like to have an informal conversation about these questions for your company, give us a call – it’s not our first crisis and we’ve got the time – DC or AC.