Looking at the bigger picture, with an eye firmly to the future, family businesses seeking to innovate and evolve are stepping into the digital realm, ensuring that their operations remain relevant and well positioned in the years to come.

Unfortunately, many family-owned and B2B businesses, including many in Malta, count themselves among the digitally sceptic. As Malta’s agency set up to support family-owned businesses, of which there are an abundance, we continue to receive feedback that digital, e-commerce and social media platforms are not key drivers for their business or customer experience channels. Many say that their business is relationship-focused, rendering the need for digital communication unnecessary – a commonly held view on a small island such as Malta.

One does not exclude the other, and building an even deeper relationship with clients, partners, resellers or employees by extending the relationship through digital channels would only serve to complement, not conflict with, their relationship-focused operations.

How to become digital-first

If the starting point for a family-run business is zero, it is not hard to imagine why the notion of becoming a digital-first business is daunting. It is, however, doable, by breaking down the issue into bite-size chunks and tackling each challenge as it comes along.

Is the family business great in person but only so-so in the virtual world? Then this needs to be addressed.

In an ideal world, the end-goal would be to create a seamless, user-friendly mobile experience for customers, one that mirrors all family business in-person capabilities and provides an option of engaging with the brand wherever they are.

Being a digital-first company means being digital-first in internal operations too. This is done by using technology to solve a business problem, by empowering the sales force, improving internal processes or collecting data on the market.

 In a digital-first world, the leading family businesses dominate the digital corner in their industry.

The Park Place to your Digital Boardwalk

Broadcast and mass media of yester-year no longer work. In today’s world, it is hyper personalisation that is the gold standard, as well as the future, of marketing. Social media is the digital Park Place to the family business boardwalk (mobile experience), and in order for the family business to be successful, the family business must digitalise.

Not convinced? Just as a simple and innovative mobile application can seriously drive a company’s competitive advantage, hyper-personalisation on social platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, will take a family business and its relationship-focused philosophy to the next level.

Here, by placing the business’ customers and community at the epicentre of its social media channels, the family business facilitates the creation of a personalised experience, and succeeds in building a community and leveraging their authenticity. Such practices serve to cut through the crowded internet spaces and boring emails.

By improving the customer and employee experience, a family business creates true conversations, serving to optimise its goals both on the front-end, where customers are concerned, and the back-end, where its team drives the day-to-day running.

Can the family business employees post about how much they value working for the family business or family? Can they share on social media? Do the employees care enough to share? The role of family business as leaders is to create experiences, moments, products and services worth talking about. These are stories worth sharing. Today, it’s the cheapest and most effective form of advertising.

The post-pandemic environment requires family business leaders to intentionally rethink how they play the game. There is an accelerated need for companies to become digitally nimble and implement omni-channel strategies to create resilience and longevity.

At the Family Business Office we can offer you assistance in dealing with family business succession planning issues through incentives supporting advisory and mediation services. Contact us today on familybusinessact@gov.mt.

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