Crisis transformation. The view of a top manager
7 minutes 44 seconds
The year 2020 accelerated the development of trends that led to the unification of online and offline. Omnicality is what we at Exponic have been offering customers for several years. After the global crisis, digital is gaining more and more importance. Part of the business was on the verge of bankruptcy, the rest will be there if they cannot adapt to the new reality and the needs of customers. The event industry is changing, acquiring new formats and goals, but offline will not cease to exist.
How is your effectiveness as a top manager measured?
Save and multiply! The Charter of any commercial organization stipulates that it pursues profit-making as the main goal of its activities. In the pursuit of revenue, you should, first of all, pay attention to efficiency. Profit should grow as a percentage more than income. You may have a huge turnover, but it is not a fact that the profit will grow as well as with less revenue. Therefore, the main indicator is the profitability and marginality of each individual project. I want to pay tribute to my father, the founder of the company, who handed it over to me with a huge, 30-year expertise and a staff of dedicated employees who have been working in the organization almost since its foundation in 1991. Most of the employees have an architectural education, they create truly creative and worthwhile projects. But in the era of digitalization and the development of new promotion technologies, PR, marketing, sales, including in digital, come to the fore. These areas were virtually absent from the organization and there was no one to deal with them. Accordingly, the company was essentially an exhibition boutique, with a narrow circle of customers, and few people knew about its existence. Scaling was required. A year ago, we launched several tools to attract new customers. They began to participate more often in tenders under 44 and 223 Federal laws, where the main indicator is the winning percentage. They took advantage of the lull due to the crisis and developed an Internet marketing plan with the setup of advertising campaigns, began to pay more attention to social networks, networking at sector events, participation in contests, awards and other industry events. As for most other commercial companies, the ROI coefficient (return on investment) serves as an indicator of efficiency. We evaluate each ruble invested by us according to this indicator. Any positive ROI is considered satisfactory, while an indicator equal to or exceeding 20% is a good result. Only in the III and IV quarters of 2019, it was possible to increase annual revenue by 25% by 2018.
What ways of business development do you see in the new reality?
The transition of the entire event industry to online is very fashionable now. Nevertheless, online will not replace offline, as tactile contact, the opportunity to "feel" the goods, make a presentation and arrange negotiations in a comfortable environment will remain in demand. In addition, during self-isolation, people missed live networking. In the future, I see offline and online integration. The development of Internet marketing and any communication on the Internet will only develop, new VR and AR technologies will be used more massively, including in the congress and exhibition industry. The cost of these services will decrease with increased demand, which will make them more affordable. Adaptive content marketing will shift to the digital sphere, will be used in multimedia interactive technologies of interaction with visitors. A personal brand, the so-called social selling, will receive more development when the head of the company actively conducts his social networks. This type of communication will gradually replace the classic SMM. More and more customers make a decision to purchase a product or service when he or she is associated with a "living" person, a representative of the company. This inspires confidence in the person and is projected onto the brand of the organization. PR and communications will be increasingly integrated with marketing. Especially in SMEs, whose managers will demand a return on investment from any "promotion" tool. Even public relations departments are no longer required to provide qualitative indicators, such as citation, media rating and the number of publications, but the financial result that this activity will bring.
What vulnerabilities have your business revealed under the circumstances?
Our business depends very much on the calendar of exhibitions and forums, and on the work of exhibition complexes. Vulnerability was revealed not because we were unable to adapt to new realities, but because circumstances do not allow us to simply provide services. Nevertheless, all the congress and exhibition events have "migrated" to the fall of 2020 or postponed to 2021. Therefore, the main task at this stage was to "freeze" all mandatory monthly payments, including rent, loans, etc. We must pay tribute to the suppliers who reacted with understanding to the current situation. In addition, with the cancellation of events and, accordingly, orders, there was uncertainty with the payment of salaries to workers. Most of the employees have been working in the company for decades, are loyal to the brand and the founder of the company, and took the situation for granted, taking vacations for several months at their own expense. In August of this year, the first exhibition event will take place since the announcement of self-isolation and the conversion of complexes into temporary hospitals. In July, the office and production staff returned to work and began preparing for the event. The main vulnerability for almost every small and medium-sized business entity is the lack of working capital. There is no airbag that would allow us to survive the crisis with minimal losses. Credit products are almost impossible to obtain due to the seasonality of business, endless tenders and problems of long-term forecasting. In addition, most large clients conclude contracts with small enterprises on the terms of 100% post-payment, which is detrimental to small businesses. Of course, not everyone will survive, but only those who will be able to adapt and survive the spring and summer with minimal financial losses, while maintaining the maximum staff and production facilities.