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Don’t Survive The Economy, Dominate It

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Posted by steve on August 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Be it the coffee or an outside marketing firm, given the current state of the economy more and more businesses have tightened the belt strap and have not strayed beyond the staples supplies needed to operate.   Wise business or a foolish mistake?  You be the judge.  The fact is that business needs much more than just the basics to survive in this climate.  Thus, the  answer depends on the level of your optimism.   Are the setbacks we’re seeing somewhat temporary or can we expect economic doldrums for years to come? 

Personally, I have no choice but to be optimistic.   In truth, your attitude is one thing you can control. Therefore, our company is moving forward with an eye on dominating our niche regardless of the conditions.  It’s really the only alternative.  Without this mindset, you’ll drive yourself crazy and your business may die a slow and painful death.  America has seen worse and each time when the odds were stacked against her, she not only survived, but came back even stronger.   I believe that no politician can truly hold back the American spirit once it gets motivated.   The pressure is building even now.  Admittedly, I’m a bit naive so I realize that attitudes along can carry you only part of the way.  .  So maintain your realism as well.

Now may be that crucial moment when you decide to do what your competitors will no doubt refuse to do.     With nerves of steel, get aggressive and find a way to expand your business.     Perhaps it’s offering more services or products, or perhaps it’s investing in new technologies.  Whatever the case may be, may this time be your magic moment  when you seize what looks like despair and pull ahead of your more complacent rival.  After all many of the big companies we enjoy today had their big move during the gloom of the Great Depression.  One “little” company was Proctor & Gamble; another was the radio industry in general.  In our industry Smead Manufacturing, the makers of Smead file folders weathered the depression under younger more aggressive leadership.  Can you guess what the major factor was to this growth?  Both anecdotal and empirical evidence support the case that advertising was the main factor in the growth or downfall of companies during those years.  To put it bluntly, the companies which demonstrated the most growth and which rang up the most sales were those which advertised heavily.  The Great Depression offers classic examples of the power of brand advertising even during times of economic crisis.

Today advertising means many different things.  From manually distributing your material, to traditional print, to tv and radio, to internet and of course to the latest darling, social media, you have at your disposal infinite m ore options than did the successful companies of the Depression.  You have economical methods that even the tightest budgets can support.  Apply them.

What will most companies do?   Nothing.  And that’s good news for you.   Money may be tight but you’ll start taking a little from a lot whereas your competition was geared up to take a lot from a little. Let those other foolish companies nix their marketing.  Avoid such a rash decision.

Not all is doom and gloom. There is money to be made for the nimble and the smart ready to rethink and ready to reinvent.  Take from this the following:

  • Sales might have slowed but you can and must learn to sell differently.
  • You better prepare your business for ecommerce.  It’s not going anywhere.
  • Take full advantage of the free advertising vehicles that exist. (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Social Bookmarking, etc.)
  • Focus on you website’s SEO and search engine position.  It is the battle ground you eventually must face.   Do it now if you’ve avoided this.
  • Use every free tool you can to promote your website and gain valuable traffic. (blog, e-mail market, article writing, etc)
  • Be it a web designer or SEM guru, hire any verifiable expert you can afford to help move your message quickly and effectively.
  • Don’t be so quick to lower all your prices as your only offensive maneuver.
  • Don’t become negative and avoid panicing when things don’t go as planned.  Your mental health is hugely important and often dismissed. 
  • Vote out incompetent politicians that have strangled business growth but don’t spend you mental energy blaming them.
  • Be proactive and consider joint ventures with companies associated with your industry but not direct competitor (example:office supplies and the copy machine industry often target the same person).

This boils down to your commitment to creativity and your willingness to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Let your competitor’s indecision drive him out of business while you seek to become more and more relevant.  As this happens, you’ll find you’ve become a success despite the economic odds.

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