In response to the ongoing crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic many small and medium-sized technology providers rely on expanding their business in good times and providing additional support in the possibly hardest time ever. One of these providers is Adobe, who recently announced a number of initiatives to help SMEs that include free use of some of their platforms for three months and free digital training. <! – ->
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to have a live LinkedIn conversation with Gary Specter, Vice President Global Commercial Business at Adobe, to learn more about the program and to hear his thoughts on how SMEs are better off what can position will likely be a completely different business environment and set of customer expectations once the country reopens for business.
Below you will find an edited transcript from our conversation. To hear the full interview, watch the video or click on the embedded SoundCloud player below.
<! – -> Gary Specter: I would really divide the types of customers and prospects we talk to on the trade side into three different ways. The first is that we see companies whose business models are based solely on personal sales or personal customer transactions. And of course the reaction they have is how I move to a digital strategy sooner or later, right? And then you have another subset that was pretty well established. You had a good digital strategy and you want to speed up that strategy and think about ways to expand it. And then, in my opinion, you really had a third guy with capital and existing websites and aggressively expanding your digital marketing and advertising, and now you want to speed it up. And we see that in all three areas.
What I find interesting is that these companies think about it in two different ways: What do I do now? How do I get through the current situation? And I think it's a bit difficult because we don't know how long it will take. And I think that varies from region to region. But I think a lot of them are starting to say, what should I do afterwards? Because I'm pretty sure the business isn't going back to December and January. I think the pandemic here will leave its mark and change the way SMEs interact with their customers. It will change the way you think about your path to the market. And it will change the way they invest. Most of the companies we speak to don't just think in the short term. What am I doing? But what do I do in the long run when I'm done with it to bring my earnings back to where they were and to know that the business model will change?
Small Business Trends: One of the things that I've noticed as a consumer and that do things like contactless delivery or service. Even shop online. A lot of people could have done online shopping before this happened, but you just didn't because many people thought, why should I shop online? I could go to the store. I don't have to do that online. But then you have a situation like the one we're in right now, in which many cases where you can't get to the store don't want to come out. You don't even feel safe. And so you start shopping for groceries online.
See, once we got over the pandemic, maybe some people said I never thought about it, but now that they had to do it during the pandemic once the pandemic is over the saying & # 39; hey , this online shopping is not bad. Maybe I'll stick with it.
Gary Specter: Yes, I don't know exactly what I would call it, but I think it's consumer trust. People are going to do things online now because they previously had no confidence or interest in doing so. There was always that, well, will it work? And grocery shopping is a prime example. My wife shops online at a grocery store and online at a farm wherever she goes, and the farm says what she has available every night. She can place an order and either have it delivered or pick it up. You give her a place, a time. You say, be here between seven and eight, write this number and we will bring your order to your car. Or she can just have it delivered. And that's just an example. I see there are sports companies that are changing the way people think about buying sporting goods. <! – ->
I mean it goes from education to healthcare to hard goods and services. I think there will be this level of comfort with which I can do these things online. I don't have to go to a physical store. And I think that will leave its mark. And I think if I were an SME today I would rethink my digital strategy, not just on the retail side. But how can I provide information or markets to certain segments that I know have changed their behavior now? And I think most people would say my parents have a hard time shopping online, for example.
You just didn't grow up on the Internet. And both my mother and father have now received training in a digital world. And I think they have realized that this actually makes their world easier. They are a little older and it is not so easy for my mother to get in the car and go to the grocery store. And I think she's discovered that she doesn't have to. I think you need to adapt to the demographics of people who have previously used technology or digital footprints and realize that this will change. And I think change is permanent. Maybe not completely, but it certainly changes the curve.
<! – -> Small Business Trends: In my opinion, business in general has to change and take permanently into account the things that are going on and how they fit your business model to get the most out of these changes. But what is Adobe doing in the meantime to help your SME customers get to the other side in the middle of the crisis?
Gary Specter: So we moved within the first week and a half, two weeks after the closure actually started, which I thought was pretty quick. From a licensing perspective, we did two things. We released two programs for both Magento and Marketo, in which we allowed people to buy Magento Cloud or Marketo. And we made the first three months of the license available free of charge. We have also created starter packages for Marketo and Magento, with which we can set up a website in 14 days. Was a very low entry price. And then a starter package on the Marketo side. In addition, we have enabled people to complete free training for Magento and Marketo. So you can not only access the software, but also set up a website. Or get set up immediately on the Marketo page and start automating your marketing.
However, we did offer free online training to help people ensure that they get their resources. learn how to use and use the technology. So those were some of the things we did straight away. I think there are things that I am already thinking about for the next step. This also depends on how long it takes. I want my SME, our partners, our customers and our potential customers to know that we are working with them. And I think SMEs are probably particularly badly affected by this virus just because they're smaller.
So we have to be very, very creative in order to achieve positive results for our customers. And one of the things I love about Adobe is the creativity that has enabled us to continue thinking about how we can help these people. But that's where we started, and I'm sure we won't end here. I think as this thing evolves in different regions, we will explore different ways to help our SME customers and partners and prospects in different ways.
Small Business Trends: In your opinion, what are some of the most important things that SMEs should learn? Are you learning in this particular time frame that will help you once we are able to overcome the current crisis and work again as usual? Well, business maybe like new.
Gary Specter: Right. I'll give the obvious first, which is obvious that we're in unknown territory. I can't imagine any … Well, definitely not in my life I've ever seen anything like it. And I think that the biggest or the most important thing is the obvious. I think everyone in the world is very concerned and insecure right now. And I think having empathy and understanding what people are going through is really important. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes, what I try to do with our buyers. I would ask SMEs to put themselves in the position of the people they want to serve. And with a little empathy understand what they're going through, and then try to figure out how you can help them as they go through it.
I think of course everyone has to take a look at how they operationalize and how they address their target group. How to reward loyal customers. And really how you act in this new reality. And what makes it more unique to me than anything else is that it will evolve. I mean, maybe it'll end in two weeks and we'll smooth the curve and everyone will go back to work in June and July. And when that happens, and that's my hope, and I'm sure everyone else is hoping, the way we work will still change. We will never operate as we did in January or December last year. So these are really the things that I would work on. I think that continues to build trust, provide accurate information and be transparent about what you as a company are trying to do and how you can best help your customers.
And again, I think I'm open and honest about the services, the products you want to deliver, and how you will go about setting the right expectations for the future. If I were an SMB retailer, I would focus on usability and design. Prioritize overall site performance on mobile devices. I know that a lot of the shopping I do now is mobile. Web experiences that ensure the basics of surfing and shopping. Concentrate on your data and your basics because you point out something that is incredibly important. 30% of these people have never shopped online.
And it is interesting that I saw a report on the types of products that, like health and fitness equipment, have increased 300% online. The bread makers are up 300%, right? Things that people hadn't bought online before are moving there. As for the last part of it, I would certainly optimize my online pickup in the store now. Again, to your point in what we've said a couple of times here, if we emerge from it, I think behavior will change. And the expectation of how powerful trading is in a digital format.
The potential is unlimited. So I would focus on these things. Ease of use, data and basics, as well as ensuring that you are able to act in a way that people would expect, including buying online, shop pickup, buying online, shipping to shop, all of these things .
Small Business Trends: It seemed as if there was a convergence of B2B and B2C before this pandemic. Do you see an acceleration of this convergence?
Gary Specter: I do. I think companies will change their behavior in particular, and I don't want to say that the changes in SMEs will differ from those in companies. I think this is the best way to say this. And I think expectations will be different. And in the B2B world, people will now realize that you can do B2B business online. And maybe I don't have to meet personally as often with the companies that I want to do business with as a B2B company. I think here is an opportunity to speed up these features and take advantage of this situation, if you like, to be better prepared for the future and future-proof of how you run your business. Who says this won't happen again in a year and a half or two? And if you've already moved into a digital world and developed a great digital strategy and created the opportunity to run your business digitally, you're probably in a safer and better place.
Small Business Trends: I agree with all of this. And I also think that maybe there is time for people to think about changing their business model from transaction-oriented to actually completely relationship-oriented. Since many companies were before all of this, it seemed to me that I was really focusing on the transaction. We all have to make money, totally understand that. But in times like these, where your transaction, rather than your relationship, is focused, there is no reason for a customer to do business with you if they just feel like you were looking at them when you were just a wallet . Unlike real people with real problems and the need for a partner, not just someone who wants me to swipe my credit card at the end of the day.
Gary Specter: Yes, sure. And it goes back to what I said before: I think empathy and loyalty, right? I mentioned, I said loyalty, I think it will be much more important. And I really think it is. I mean, people remember who could help me when I needed the help, right? The grocery stores where I could buy most of the groceries I wanted. I won't forget her tomorrow. I should say my wife will, she may continue to take care of her when this is suddenly over, unlike the one that is just down the street and could not help us. So I think loyalty and empathy are incredibly important right now. And these are some of the things I would think about to keep my customer base. Because it's your customer base that gets you through this problem. It is not your net new customers that will get you there.
This is part of the individual interview series with thought leaders. The transcript was edited for publication. If it is an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher .