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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 1
Issue 3

Are You Ready?

If you're like most business owners, you've been hit hard by a shift in the economy over the last several years. Economists say it is heading back, the stock market rise indicates it, as well as stronger retail spending. Though you may not feel it yet, it has begun. If you're standing by waiting patiently for the turnaround, you continue to lose momentum. You need to be ready for the reversal of fortune.

"Get ready?" you think. "My phone is plugged in and I have enough brochures to wallpaper the entire Empire State Building. I am as ready as I'll ever be." But are you? Here are reasons you may not be.

If you've been looking outward as to why business is down, it is time to look inward. The economy didn't go on vacation, it changed. Attitudes are different. Companies are buying what they need right now, not to fill future requirements. This "just-in-time" purchasing is the current mode of spending for businesses and consumers. It has caused a long lasting impact on how and why companies and consumers spend money.

The effects will be felt for a long time to come. We just need to remember the Great Depression to understand why. The Depression affected how our grandparents and parents spent money their whole lives not just for the years immediately following the market crash. There was always an underlying fear that there could be another economic crisis. So with this in mind, start adjusting.

Ask yourself the following questions about how your business has been affected:

  • Are your products and services still relevant to your market, or has its needs changed?
  • Do your offerings still provide enough value to customers and prospects?
  • Is your message right? Does it still resonate with your target market?
  • Are you positioned to support the changing needs of your marketplace?
  • Do your employees communicate the same message or are they sending mixed signals?
  • Are you listening to customers and prospects? They hold the answers.

One example of how businesses have responded to changing spending habits is trendy restaurants that have adjusted their menus to respond to the more cost-conscious customers. Many offer discounts and more basic foods in addition to gourmet meals in response to the shifting requirements of diners.

Another example is financial service firms that have refocused on security issues like retirement and building a safety net for college funds. This is different from the past goal of accumulating wealth for expensive homes, vacations and sports cars. Financial firms have responded to the shift in attitudes, current fears and need for security the down economy has created.

What you can do to respond and get ready?

  • Assume your customers' needs have changed. Find out what they want and require. Develop a survey (the topic of the next e-zine) and ask them directly. Then figure out how you can accommodate the change.
  • Reposition your offerings as "need to have" vs. "nice to have". Both companies and consumers will spend on necessities rather than luxuries right now.
  • Make sure you offer customers a return on investment. Businesses and consumers tend to buy when they know what the results are going to be. If you can quantify your offerings in terms of money or time saved or earned, you are golden.
  • Reeducate your employees on any changes in message or positioning so that there is consistency throughout your organization when dealing with the outside world.
  • Be prepared. Buying patterns won't be like they were. Start now.

Businesses survive and thrive on reinventing themselves when necessary. Unless you ask questions and listen to your customers, you won't know when you are off track. Keep in touch with your customers and target market so you can shift with their changing needs.

Ready, set, grow!

Thanks,

Ellen

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