Posted on

How Businesses Mitigate the Risk of Unplanned Events During Uncertain Times

How Businesses Mitigate the Risk of  Unplanned Events During Uncertain Times

If you’ve ever applied for a loan or business insurance, you’ve had to check a box that asked whether you had a Business Continuity Plan in place. Many applicants tend to mindlessly check yes, even if they don’t have an actual plan in place.

That is not a good idea. There’s a reason why these institutions ask for a Business Continuity Plan. And it’s not to annoy you or give you unnecessary work. They are looking to minimize risk for you and for their institution. Many are required by law to have a Business Continuity plan in place themselves.

A Business Continuity Plan is a contingency plan that provides direction about how to keep the business in operation if something unexpected were to happen. Loan and insurance applications aside, having a plan forms part of a solid business strategy particularly during times of uncertainty.

Research indicates that close to 90% of businesses with a Business Continuity Plan reported having reduced disruptions, improved resilience, and faster recovery from disruptions. So there are a number of statistically proven benefits to having a Business Continuity Plan.

Disruptions can be natural or they can be manmade. Some of the most common disruptions – an unexpected death, divorce, distress, disability, or disagreement – will affect 1 in 2 businesses. Any one of these can have a devastating impact, particularly on a smaller business.

How devastating? The average disruption will cost the business about $81,000. And still 25% of businesses will shut down entirely. That’s pretty devastating for a business without the resources to buffer the impact.

Business interruption insurance may help but only in cases where ‘a covered event causes physical damage that results in losses’. Many of the most common disruptions would therefore not be eligible for a business interruption payout as many found out during the pandemic. Check the policy or speak with your broker.

The responsibility for protecting people, profits, and the company’s growth from unplanned events is an internal job. This type of risk management and risk mitigation cannot be outsourced or delegated.

Business Continuity Plans typically include information on:

  • Whom to contact in and out of the organization. This of course includes employees, but also customers, suppliers and key stakeholders, etc.
  • Key documents. It’s essential to record where to find documents like lease, mortgage, key contracts, along with the person(s) with access.
  • Financial matters. This is usually an important one because even during a disruption the business needs to be able to continue to pay and be paid. Basics include information on location of accounts and names of signatories to the accounts – i.e. who has access.
  • Operational workarounds. What are the key tasks that keep the business running? How are they performed now and how can they continue to be performed if the current way of working were for some reason impacted now? There’s a lot of talk about cybersecurity and cyber threats. If something were to happen that prevented the business from operating in its usual way, what workarounds will allow it to continue?

Thinking through and documenting this information ahead of time minimizes response times during a disruption. This level of foresight also reduces the number of decisions that would need to be made during a disruption when emotions are heightened and the business may be losing money.

Continuity planning allows business leaders to focus on making the right strategic decisions to navigate the disruption instead of expending energy on day to day operational decisions in the heat of the moment.

Documenting these areas ensures that the relevant information is at the business’ fingertips during a disruption when the most important thing needed is readily accessible information. Once this information is documented, it’s essential that the people tasked with responding are informed and trained.

Running a business comes with inherent risks. Business leaders taking on this risk own it by taking steps to proactively insulate their growth and operations from unpredictable and unplanned events. Having a business continuity plan is one of those steps.

Posted on

3 Pillars For Event Success In Another Uncertain Year

3 Pillars For Event Success In Another Uncertain Year

graphic our story jrAs Omicron cases surged earlier this year, major events across multiple industries were once again forced to send the dreaded “This event has been postponed/canceled” emails to thousands of registered attendees. Reminiscent of 2020, marketers who relied on experiential marketing for everything from brand awareness to lead generation scrambled to adjust to yet more unexpected adversity.

With the past two years keeping everyone on their toes, it’s high time marketers stop hedging their bets on in-person versus virtual and instead establish the infrastructure to be prepared for the unexpected.

Experienced marketers can handle seamless transitions for their targeted content — regardless of when, where and how events are taking place — if they deploy a customer-centric strategy and a comprehensive event management platform. Of course, with so many marketing services and event tech point solutions vying for attention, it can be difficult to know where to start. Regardless of where your events are happening, follow these guidelines to ensure you’re driving the most value out of your programs in 2022.

1. Embrace The Power Of The Pivot

Experienced marketers know to plan for the unexpected with contingency plans at the ready. In event marketing, unexpected hiccups have always been unavoidable, whether it’s a caterer not showing up, a vendor falling through at the last minute or poor streaming quality for a keynote. With even more uncertainty around events in 2022, marketers need to have backups for their backup plans, with multiple mapped routes to reach their goals and successfully engage customers.

In short, we hope for the best but plan for the worst. Successfully pivoting takes more than just planning. It’s crucial to have technology that allows you to implement changes on a moment’s notice without sacrificing the customer experience.

Marketers depend on robust functionality and require a top-to-bottom platform that’s as nimble and agile as we are. We need the tools and real-time data insights to effectively target, collaborate and customize content, build customer relationships, make real-time business decisions on the ground and capture live interactions and preferences in an attributable way.

2. Content Is King, Regardless Of Where It’s Consumed

While many marketers still believe nothing can replace the value of a good handshake, the past two years have proven that, at least for a period of time, business can still successfully be conducted without physical interaction. The key to a successful event isn’t the venue; it’s the content.

Even the sleekest, most chic and alluring venue or event destination cannot make up for poor planning and subpar content. Without engaging content, attendees will become bored and that’s the last thing any event marketer wants in any format. An in-person conference with dull content is far worse than a virtual event that keeps attendees’ eyes on screens and engaged with other attendees.

The No. 1 rule for events is to invest in thoughtful, relevant content personalized and targeted to each attendee based on their interests, preferences, past behaviors and the stage of their unique journey with your brand. This process enables 10,000 unique experiences versus an event for 10,000 attendees. 

3. Don’t Silo Your Event

Whether in-person, virtual or hybrid, events are a powerful marketing channel. However, enterprise marketers all too often silo their event marketing tools from the rest of their martech stack, hindering their ability to aggregate customer data in a meaningful way across events.

Platforms and tools used for event marketing and management need to be closely integrated with MAPs, CRM and other tools to ensure a comprehensive and real-time picture of the customer journey. Failure to do this will negatively impact data quality and therefore future experiences with the brand.

Conversely, the ability to collect and analyze event engagement data in real-time, integrated with other marketing tools, enables a smooth and familiar customer experience and an efficient campaign workflow on a year-round basis. For example, we need to recognize an attendee who just registered for an event is the same customer who downloaded a specific E-book or white paper a few months prior, and automatically recommend tracks and content that map back to related topic areas.

This takes the guesswork out of agenda planning for the customer and instills confidence that they’ll gain value from attending your event. As event data is captured, it can be used year-round for continual engagement with relevant touchpoints mapped back to their event experience. Integrated, end-to-end technologies that break down data silos can optimize the customer experience from registration through post-event touchpoints, creating unmatched value for both customers and marketers. 

Events aren’t successful because they’re in-person; they’re successful because they engage and strengthen relationships with captivating, highly relevant content. When planning your programs in 2022, don’t put all your eggs in one in-person or virtual basket. Embrace the unknown, ensure you’re flexible enough to pivot and create tailored, captivating content targeted with customer preferences and insights. When done right, your event marketing programs will transcend the binary choice of virtual and physical and deliver personalized content through engaging experiences to grow customer relationships and strengthen brand affinity.

JR Sherman is the CEO of RainFocus. With more than 20 years of leading highly impactful service and SaaS businesses, Sherman is highly regarded for his expertise in SaaS, events, marketing and experiential marketing. Sherman was named one of the 25 Most Influential Executives by Business Travel News.