Trends & Features

‘Knowledge is power’

As we all struggle to come to terms with the continued impact of Covid-19 it becomes an increasing mental challenge of what to do next …

I appreciate that there are some winners within the business world at this time but I imagine that for most of us, brands and retailers alike it is challenging to say the least. So what do we do next?

With the awareness that a growing proportion of end users are shopping online our digital presence and e-commerce platforms become ever more important. But with social media sometimes feeling like an ever-hungry monster that needs constant feeding. TV advertising saying that ‘all you need’ is a Squarespace website to launch your own brand. Is it that easy to push your business further into a digital space?

I think the answer to that actually lies in how we approach the question because it is a complex one .. well certainly at first look. In my opinion that complexity is down to a lack of knowledge. If we have been fortunate to have a reasonably loyal customer base in a well populated area and therefore when sport is taking place and our doors are open, trade is good, then we have never needed to really get into the digital space, hence our base knowledge is incredibly low. That realisation is the first step on the road to digital success …

The idea that is portrayed by various advertising channels about you ‘just’ need to have a website, a facebook page, some fancy images on Instagram and the orders will flow in like the code on a page of The Matrix is pure falicy. In short, the key is knowledge and actually if there is one benefit of lockdown it is (for some people) having additional time. Yes, the doors of our businesses are closed, but does that mean less commuting? Less staff meetings? We have done a stock take, the admin, the hoovering, so less business time? All of which means that every day really can be a school day.

The answer is to use the time to learn, it certainly was in my case. The scary thing is the assumption of knowledge … of course our company has a website, of course it has social media channels, of course we use them well. Opinions that were strong ones in my companies case until I started to investigate them further and learn some actual facts that are relevant and recent. The first realisation was that this sphere moves so fast that knowledge gets out of date in the blink of an eye, and whilst we may know what was correct and relevant a year ago it will not be now! Who knew that the menu structure on your website is analysed by google with reference to their ‘algorithym’ of how an average customer shops digitally and your ranking will be based on how closely that menu matches the algorithym. You can no longer list a shoe online as a senior hockey shoe, as the average customer doesn’t search like that! The variants that have to be considered are wide and are frequently changing.

Similarly, with social media, we all understand that it has a place in the promotion of our business, but with the younger generation now saying that Facebook is only for old people, Whats App being criticised and users flocking to Signal, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram users stating that they have 1000 followers so are now an influencer and will we give them a free widget – It can all be a bit much. So again, the answer is knowledge and the reason for needing the knowledge is also the answer. The internet!
Lockdown has multiplied the amount of digital content available – for free! People have time to write and share knowledge and whether you opt for a paid course or just to read multiple articles, compare, contrast and pick-out the relevant pieces it is all there. Rafts of knowledge that we can all tap in to, increase our understanding of a complicated space and improve our presence in an ever more important area.

The final bit of philosophy for this article is that with the current pressures it can feel like there are very few ‘wins’ – everyday positives that in the past we may have taken for granted – the upsell, the grateful customer, the smile or genuine ‘thank you’. But learning can be that positive, at the end of today can we have gained some knowledge, a positive enhancement for ourselves and our businesses? The information is certainly out there if we have the time and motivation to go and find it.

So, whilst parents struggle to juggle working from home with home schooling, we can also use the time for learning, making everyday a school day, but for all of us. As both Thomas Jefferson and Sir Francis Bacon are reported to have said “Knowledge is power”

Simon Mason
Managing Director
Mercian Sports Company

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