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As the UK begins to reopen, we can all look forward to exciting times ahead. As part of our virtual ITV Showcase 2021 event, which brings together UK businesses of all sizes, British Businesswoman and Dragons’ Den star, Deborah Meaden, shares three tips for businesses looking to thrive in our new world.

Read on for her advice and watch the full video below.

1) Look to the future

When businesses say they can’t wait for things to go back to normal, alarm bells ring for Deborah as she believes it’s not going to happen! “It’s the businesses that have got their eyes firmly fixed on the future that are thriving and are going to thrive beyond the pandemic,” she says. 

Energised businesses are those that have grasped the challenges that have been thrown their way.  “What they’re talking about,” she says, “is ‘I can’t wait to get beyond this, deal with what we’ve got now, but actually look to the future and imagine the business that we will be beyond’. You can hear the difference: looking back or looking forward.” 

2) Embrace changing behaviours

Often, says Deborah, during difficult times, customers rush back to the things they know. “It’s different this time. The customer is actually changing at a faster and faster rate.” 

It means changes that have been discussion points for years, i.e. the future of the high street, online shopping, and consumer behaviour have been happening on “fast forward”. “The businesses that I’m working with that are really, really successful are embracing that change,” she says. “What they’ve understood is that this is forever.”

3) Unlock emotion

“What I look for when I’m investing in a business is a business that’s really tuned in to the moment—they understand how the consumer is feeling,” she says. The past few years have been difficult, the companies that truly empathise with their consumers can adapt in a meaningful way. 

She also believes it’s so important today for companies to shorten evaluation chains and make fast decisions. The companies that continue to grow will be prepared to act on learnings and react to new customer needs and behaviours.

Watch the full video

Deborah Meaden
video time: video title:
“If I had a message to any business, it is to keep your eyes firmly fixed forward, shorten your evaluation processes and make sure that you’re able to deliver what your customer wants, how they want it, and when they want it—fast.” Deborah Meaden, British Businesswoman and star of Dragons' Den

Embracing changing behaviours: Marks & Spencer

As part of ITV Showcase 2021, Sharry Cramond, Marketing Director, M&S Food & Hospitality, joined a panel hosted by Adil Ray to discuss the themes shared by Deborah and fellow speakers. 

Like Deborah, Sharry emphasised the need for rapid change. “Sometimes in business, we’re evaluating, we’re testing… and what we had to do last year was make some significant changes very, very quickly,” she says.  

At the beginning of lockdown, consumers wanted to know how big queues were, and whether pasta and toilet roll were in stock. So, within a few days, every UK store set up and ran its own social media account so it could share messages at a local level. Now, Marks & Spencer reaches on average 3.5 million people a week through the stores’ social media pages. It shows what opportunities can be unlocked with some creative, reactive thinking! 

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Sharry Cramond, Marketing Director, M&S Food & Hospitality

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