The Rebel Company
Article / Beliefs

A Letter From Me, To You

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Do We Even Do Long Reads Any More?

Thanks for joining me.

As the founder of a small business that works closely with other SMEs, I wanted to share a little more information that will hopefully be insightful and useful to anyone who finds themselves a little ‘rabbit it the headlights’ right now. Because I can assure you, you’re not alone.

Time On Our Hands.

The shut down of the industry we live for and love could never have been predicted. We do what we do because we really like people. We like getting a bunch of good folk together, looking after them, cooking brilliant food and serving delicious drinks. We love understanding how to add value to those our businesses serve; seeking out their wants and needs, and constantly finding new ways to engage, excite and keep people coming back.

But we also like innovating. We like big ideas, bravely but sensibly evolving, reacting to the rapid pace of change and the constantly moving goalposts. It’s why we do what we do. We live with many balls in the air, fighting for diary space and wishing we just had a few more hours in the day to make those improvements, drive through change, and be louder and more visible in the way we market our businesses.

Whilst we’ve got no customers to take care of, once we’ve battened down the hatches and gotten our ducks in a row, now is the perfect time to be stepping back, looking under every stone and in every corner, to work out how we can come back fighting when this nightmare is over and we can resume doing the very things we set our businesses up to do - surprise, delight and make people happy.

So much is out of our control right now. And there are only two types of problems after all - ones we can do nothing about, and ones we can. So what can we do about the latter? Place the thought, focus and attention there.

Here are five things that every business needs to be looking at right now, if you’re going to come back quickly, stronger and more focused on the other side of this.

1. Going Digital

I saw this image on my LinkedIn feed and it couldn’t be closer to the truth. In the thick of looking after our clients, our own marketing strategy was ad-hoc at best. And at times non-existent. And I make no apologies for that. It’s tough doing what we do, and I know that many of our clients and friends within all areas of hospitality will agree. But it’s no longer acceptable to make excuses.

I’ve always fallen in to the trap of looking enviously at our competitors’ and peers’ digital marketing efforts and at their content and falling at the first hurdle, because getting to where they are seems almost impossible. But this month, I think I’ve finally realised that this is just about getting started. And it’s amazing what happens when you do.

A huge shout out to John Vincent, LEON’s founder and CEO, not only for the ongoing brilliance of everything that LEON does, but on his recent book Winning Not Fighting, co-written with Wing Tsun master Julian Hitch.

This book warrants a post of its own, but the relevant thing for me here is the notion that “Mastery is something to be practiced every day, not a goal in the distant future” (John, I’m sorry. I’ve probably bastardised that, but I hope it makes the point).

This has helped me to totally reframe my approach to so many thing, our digital marketing efforts being key.

So, expect more content from us. Hopefully successful, sometimes not, but always experimental. It comes from the heart and we’ll always be doing our best. Something about the cobbler being unable to fix his own shoes comes to mind.

Everyone should be focusing on digital right now, and what this means for keeping their businesses alive and thriving online, so you’re front of mind when the revival of our industry happens and we can grab the opportunity with both hands. Read up, watch, listen and learn. Spend a little money if you can, to get a strategic plan in place. And then just get going. It’s a brilliant time to be doing so!

A great place to start is this webinar from Mark Ritson and Marketing Weekly. I think it’s probably the most valuable thing I’ve watched since lockdown. It provides some incredible insight in to how the next months are going to play out and how you can market to succeed. Do have a watch.

2. Learning From Lockdown

After the initial panic I felt at the beginning of March, it’s been brilliant to take a step back and look at work and life, how the two integrate and how forced distancing, spending more time alone, and working remotely has made such a giant difference to so many things. I’ve been keeping a list on my phone and here’s where I’m currently at.

Seeking out the positives has been, well, really positive. It’s been vital for me to reflect and to take some decisive action where necessary to get life and work into a place from which growth can happen. Personally and professionally.

Taking these and making them the basis for conversations with the team and for decisions moving forward is going to sustain a real change in my relationships with family, friends, colleagues and clients both immediately and in to the future. And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

3. Revisiting Everything You Thought You Knew About Your Brand

We recently connected with an agency called Leidar, after meeting their UK managing partner Madelyn Postman at two events on the trot at The Museum of Brands in Notting Hill and a One Percent For The Planet meet-up at The Conduit Club. Leidar is the viking word for the North Star and their mission is to help brands find theirs. A guiding light and a continued point to refocus on as businesses and their teams navigate a rapidly-changing world. And quite frankly, we think it’s a lovely sentiment.

More than ever, brands need to stand for something above simply creating employment and making money. This slide from a recent Accenture report sums this up perfectly.

The question therefore, is how you engage your audience and your teams in looking for, finding, and pursuing your purpose; leading with a clear mission, a fully defined DNA and a simple message that keeps everyone pointing in the same direction?

We already know that the world is moving towards more conscious living and more conscious consumerism, so rethink your narrative, tell your story and focus on how your business can be best placed to lead during this continued shift towards genuine purpose-led brand engagement; standing out from the crowd and coming back from the current challenges with a fresh focus and fresh enthusiasm for all that’s brilliant about your business and how it can find it’s place in a more sustainable world.

4. Team Engagement After Lockdown

Without a doubt, the hospitality sector and those working within it are going to feel the affects of this current period for months, even years to come. When the world reopens for business, consumers are going to be bombarded with brand communications and marketing like never before.

The winners from this will be those who not only manage to stand out from the crowd in the public domain, but those who have re-engaged, motivated and generally prioritised their teams. Revisiting your brand means revisiting how this leads to team engagement in your purpose, your product and your guest experience both online and offline.

A considered and unique Employee Value Proposition is a great place to start, when defining what working for your business feels like and ensuring that it’s a great place to work and one that facilitates excellence in everything you and your teams do.

We firmly buy in to the definition “A Brand Is What People Say About You When You’re Not In The Room” (thanks Jeff Bezos) and the most important rooms to think about are your changing or dining rooms, when your teams are together and away from the eyes and ears of leaders.

This video from Blessing White Consultancy is one of the finest examples of how leaders need to inspire teams, set a clear strategy, and drive genuine engagement across all levels and departments.

5. This Could Be Our Chance to Change The World

Fans of HBO’s Silicon Valley will know that this is a familiar story. Every start-up launches with a mission statement which includes a wholly insincere commitment to saving/changing the world or making the world a better place.

But, and I imagine you’re clear on where I’m going with this, we do have an opportunity, right now, to be looking carefully at our business’ place on this planet, the impact we’re having on the environment around us, and on our immediate and global communities.

Refocus on this during the coming weeks and months, interrogate every aspect of your business, look back through your supply chain and forward to the life and usability of your products and packaging. Resisting the temptation to give little more than lip service to your business or brands’ impact means passing on the opportunity of a lifetime to fundamentally address imbalance, excess and often lazy practices that are unnecessary, damaging and irresponsible.

We can use businesses as a force for change, leading in this space will mean that consumers and competitors will follow. And this will mean that everyone wins.

Where to start? Our friend and collaborator Daniel Webb, has looked in depth at the crucial issue of plastic in our supply chain. His Everyday Plastic report makes for interesting, insightful, but difficult reading. But it’s certainly worth 20 minutes of your time.

Let’s get this restaurant revival started!

Thanks for reading. I really hope this was useful. If you have any feedback, questions or just want to catch up, then please do drop me an email or give me a call. I’m all ears!

Stay well,