Everywhere I go these days I seem to get asked the same questions. “How long is this economic down turn going to last?” and “What can I do with my business to make sure I come out on top during these down times?”.  So I thought I would quickly answer both of these questions for you today.

How long is this economic down turn going to last? – I have no clue and the truth is no one does.  Now all the studies I’ve read have shown a market retracing back to the beginning of 08’ starting in May or June of this year. Which means that if we’re lucky, business will be back to where it was a year and a half ago by the end of this year.  Nice right?  Sorry, wish I could have been more help on that one.

What can I do with my business to make sure I come out on top during these down times? – You’ll have to go back to the basics and get your Brand out there.  Now I’m saying this assuming that your brand is in check. Which means your website and sales tools are updated visually and that your message targets your clients current needs. Showing that you put the effort into your image will go a long way as you start fighting for the attention of those potential clients. It’s because of these efforts that we will see some new industry leaders rise to the top during this economic down turn. Basically the companies who are creative and willing to work harder for those client dollars are going to get more visibility or brand face time with the potential client. Markets will pick up and clients will begin to spend again but who do you think will get the sale? The vendor who fell off the radar when times got tough or the vendor who seemed to come out of no where and really invested in a relationship by offering a professional looking alternative and the will to back their product or service to make the purchase easier.
Which brings me to by second point. In tough times you have to find a way to back your sales. Whether its with a warranty, in-house financing or personal on-site service you have to find a way to lower the barrier and show that you’re willing to invest in your client during the hard times. Put yourself in your clients shoes for a moment. I’m telling you, long standing relationships will fall to the way side when budgets are cut. You better be ready to work harder for those dollars and that means you need to bring more to the table.
Finally, you’re going to have to be willing to invest in that new client relationship even if it means your sales cycle is drawn out two the three times longer. Companies are laying people off and sales reps are leaving for higher ground and that only means one thing to me….less people calling on the same number of clients. Now those clients may not have immediate dollars but if your hanging with them during the hard times you can at least have a heads up when the bid requests go out.
BrightBox has had to do the same thing. We’ve found creative ways to work with our clients smaller budgets and we’ve laid the ground work to some long standing relationships that will most likely not payout for quite some time.
So get out there and play the game. Show your clients that your passionate about what you’re doing, you’re committed to your industry and you’re in it for the long haul not just the profitable times. Only time will tell if my assumptions are correct but I can tell you one thing with certainty, marketing is like the Lottery in that if you don’t play…. You can’t win!