How to grow your business through the recession

Another great post from the experts at American Express’ OPEN Forum, about how to keep your business moving through a recession:

The reports of diving revenues and continued economic downturn have many businesses rethinking any visions of growth projections. The hot phrase these days is, “flat is the new up.”

And that may indeed be your most prudent short-term strategy – focus on ways that allow you to hang on and retain the business you currently enjoy rather than flitter about looking for new markets to save the day.

There are a handful of tactical moves that you should consider in this vein if you have not already.

Focus on customer service

Sure, you should always do this, but now’s the time to revisit this entire category and start looking at everything your business does, with regard to a customer, as customer service.

Map out every current and potential contact with prospects and customers and ask yourself how you could turn each one into a marketing opportunity. Now, I don’t mean a sales opportunity so much as I mean an opportunity to enrich the relationship and enhance the experience.

Then, go about putting your energy into building processes that allow you to take full advantage of the touches created by marketing and sales, as well as finance, delivery, support and service functions.

Add price points

There is a natural tendency to want to cut prices to retain business, heck, maybe your customers are even asking you to do so, but resist. In most cases, lowering your prices simply guts profits and devalues your products and services in the future.

Instead, look for new ways to repackage, reformat and reconfigure offerings to add more value and/or create entirely new price points and offerings.

If you sell a $5,000 service for instance, figure out how to build a $79 and $499 product package that would allow someone to become your customer with low risk and still experience your brand and awesome people.

This is a great business strategy in general, but it really shines when budgets get tight and buyers become more deliberate with spending decisions.

Keep long-term objectives

Those growth projections, innovations and market opportunities you identified last year are still valuable drivers for the long-term health and direction of your business – don’t abandon them.

Think of the current climate as a bit of a detour on the road to your final destination. Sure, it may seem like a hassle, and maybe you’ll arrive a little later at your destination than you planned, but, what if on this new course you also got to glimpse some interesting new scenery, learned much more about how to work together with your trip mates, and came out the other end with a fresh perspective on your industry in general. Maybe this forced side trip is really an unexpected and valuable part of your education.

Don’t over correct, just look for what you are meant to learn on this new path and keep the long-term goals on the white board for all to see.

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In what ways are you learning through the recession? Share your ideas by commenting here.

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