I’m an optimist, and although I must admit that I waver at times, I do believe that our economy will rebound and that we all ought to be ready when it does! At a recent Customer Advisory Board meeting, members were asked the following question… “What are you doing today to prepare for when the recession is over?” While some organizations are investing in technology and training, and building for long-term success, far too many organizations are not preparing at all for post-recession times. They’re in “survival mode” and pessimistic about their long-term futures. Engineering firms are laying off their engineers. Entire marketing departments are being eliminated.
What are the leaders of these organizations thinking?! Innovation and marketing is more important now than ever before. Even in tough times, leaders must plan for the future viability of their organizations. Turn those half-empty glasses upside down! After all…spring always follows winter and daylight always comes! It may take awhile, but our economy will rebound. Plan now for that time!
In a recent article by John Quelch, Harvard Business School professor, entitled Marketing After the Recession, he offers the following recommendations for planning for the future:
1. Focus on high-potential customers.
2. Don’t assume a return to normal.
3. Assess your target customers’ trust in your brand.
4. Stay focused on costs.
5. Know your lead indicators.
6. Develop scenarios.
7. Don’t wait for permission
These are all great suggestions. I particularly like #1, #2, and #7. We all know it's much less costly to keep current customers than it is to develop new relationships, new accounts, and new sales opportunities. Focus on high-potential (i.e. current) customers. Start listening to them! Solicit their guidance and invest in what they have to say. Develop an advisory board comprised of strategic customers. Learn how market trends are affecting them. Learn about their challenges and opportunities and what keeps them up at night. Armed with this information and the voice of the customer, you can better respond to their needs and begin seeing a brighter future for your own organization.
Don’t assume a return to normal. Even in a recession, change is inevitable. Your customers and your competitors are changing. Keep up! Listen to them. Know what they are doing. Get to know their operational challenges and how your organization might help them overcome them. Change your own strategies accordingly. Develop a key account program or executive sponsor program. Meet one-on-one with top customers to explore opportunities and to develop executive relationships. These types of strategic relationships with top customers will lead to long-term opportunities when the recession ends.
Don’t wait for permission. Get ahead of your competitors! Invest today in customer programs that will lead to the future success of your organization. Don’t wait for Wall Street to tell you when it’s okay.
Invest in innovation and marketing today for the long-term success of your organization. Try a little optimism! It will help you plan today so you’re ready when the recession ends and the sun shines again!
Until next time,