Business Resilience in Digital Media: Shama Hyder Interview

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The coronavirus pandemic has caused immense disruption across nearly every industry. As teams adapt to the working from home lifestyle, many leaders have become concerned about how their organizations will fare.

Business resilience (or operational resilience) refers to “the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity,” according to Harvard Business Review. Indeed, the world is now facing newfound setbacks, changes and adversity without much of a playbook to reference.

For insights on resilience and how to maintain it, we spoke with Shama Hyder, founder & CEO of Zen Media. Hyder is an Indian-American entrepreneur, author, and online and television personality who was also ranked one of LinkedIn's Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.

What does business resilience mean to you?

I started my company during the recession ...

So, I know a thing or two about what it takes to launch and grow during economic downturns. Generally, people (and companies) fall into two buckets right now.

The Panic Group. They get scared, they hoard, they pull back on key business drivers such as marketing. And, in the (very) short-term it makes them feel better. In the near and long term, they face disastrous consequences.

The "This Is Our Moment" Group. This is the group that knows there has never been a more captive audience. While their competitors get scared, they get braver. They know that in times like these trust and preference become more than a nice to have. They become must-haves.

Because make no mistake, when the dust settles, and it will, there will be market winners and losers. Being a winner when it settles, is business resilience.

What role does brand equity play in a business resilience plan?

Market recognition = market share. If I could scream something from the rooftops, it would be that. Right now, there is a very captive audience and they need solutions. They want trusted sources. It costs way less right now to establish yourself as the go-to brand, even if you have mega competitors (see above.) Yes, buying cycles will get longer but what you invest now in building trust and visibility will pay dividends down the road.

What is the biggest challenge digital marketers face in a world occupied by the coronavirus? Do you see opportunities for innovation?

Not working closely with Sales. Sales and Marketing need to be best friends. Marketing has to provide air cover for Sales. No ifs or buts about it. Demand Gen has to work with Lead Gen, and right now the only way to make sure the company is hitting MQLs and SQLs is for everyone to work together.

Also, I advise all marketers to look for media buying opportunities. This is what happens during a recession. Huge conglomerates and fear-based VC-backed companies pull back. Competitors start to make mad decisions based on fear, and all of a sudden market opportunities that you couldn't have before start to pop up. Juicy marketing opportunities that you could never get your hands on before now become available. Please, take advantage.

In times of crisis, brand image plays a big role in business resilience. What tips do you have for organizations to maintain consumer trust?

Resist the urge to "hard sell." There's a time to sow and a time to reap. This is the time to sow. You can reap as well, but do it by attracting, engaging and clearly being the go-to solution in your industry. Pushing too hard right now without a strategy will backfire.

What guidance have you been giving your team in this new remote work world?

This is where we’ve been immensely forward thinking. We have been remote for 11 years. In fact, when I decided that the team would be remote it was a new phenomenon. People would ask, “Where’s your office?” I’d reply with “the cloud.” And, they’d inevitably say “oh, is that uptown?” Yeah….wayyyy uptown. Now, this is much more accepted. I love that during this time our team has been able to continue to work from home and to support our clients fully.

Some epic resources I’d like to share as well:

  • Restaurants: OneDine, is offering to turn any restaurant with a parking lot into a "sonic" like take out within 24 hours using their technology -- for free. Meaning: Restaurants can let people order, pay and pick up without leaving their cars. If you run one or know one, please contact OneDine
  • Facebook: Facebook just created a $100 million dollar small business grant. Eligibility requirements will soon follow. You can keep tabs here: https://www.facebook.com/business/grants.
  • Forbes8 Summit: If you could get all the top experts and authors in one (virtual) room right now to help you - what would you say? I would hope you'd say, “YES!” Forbes8 is bringing together the top experts for a free e-summit this Friday! Topics range from how to sell digitally, how to manage remote teams, and more. Oh, and this is a stellar line-up. Including Chris Brogan, Rohit Bhargava, Charlene Li, Goldie Chan - and yours truly. Register here: https://forbes8.forbes.com/esummit/.

For more useful digital marketing insights, sign up for SmartBrief on Social Business. For more information on how to lead and practice business resilience during the the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Special Report on Coronavirus.

Evan Lauterborn is Audience & Content Development Manager at SmartBrief. He focuses on subscriber growth, content strategy, SEO and managing the @SmartBrief Twitter account. Connect with him on LinkedIn.