From the bridge – look out and what do we see? Stormy weather. We see a period of uncertainty, radical change, and increased conflict. It is time for business creativity to express itself as markets retreat. For our nations, businesses and families it is a time of contraction as forces turn inward not outward, a period of negative yin rather than the positive yang energy we have experienced for over ten years. Globalisation and expansion replaced by protectionism and introspection.
But do not equate negative as always bad – it is just different – as Corporal Jones would say “don’t panic Mr Mannering…” It’s a time of real opportunity too.
In a market like this there is something for everyone as long as we know where to look. The trick? Wherever you look for the answer make sure it is not in the same place as before. It is true that for all businesses there is less market to share and with the double whammy of fewer customers with smaller budgets we must navigate carefully through the turbulent water because when we get beyond the storm we need to be sure that our customers are still with us.
We need to keep our customers close and value them the same even though they may be spending less money with us.
Five tips for surviving stormy business conditions
1) Identify, protect (and develop) products that have high value
2) Do not discount your high value products but expect and prepare for fewer sales with discerning customers. It may be counter intuitive, but it is possible to encourage customers to trade up to a better product that lasts longer or delivers more.
3) Nurture and deliver great service quality and brand experience
4) Expect to negotiate and provide discounts on mainstream, products and services as a short-term defence to protect market share
5) Fish where the fish are. Develop your longer-term attack strategy. Create new options within new business models that provide customers with the opportunity to trade down to a cost-effective choice whilst at the same time give you the ability to protect margin.