I decided that to stave off the January Blues I’d take a holiday in the first couple of weeks of the year and head to a place where the sun actually shines and where the sea temperature would be a little over freezing. The best bet to avoid a long haul flight and to keep my carbon footprint fairly neutral was Egypt. So salam alaikum my Egyptian friends.
Whilst I was away, I had the time to plough through a few books and to get my thinking straight for what is probably going to be a seriously challenging year. What better place to start than the biographies of world famous entrepreneur Richard Branson and of Dragon’s Den favourite James Caan. Certainly in my eyes two of the finest British born business leaders today. I took a lot out of both books in terms of ideas about how and why to run a business, some of the goals to aim for, but most importantly, the motivation to keep at it. When times get tough, it can get extremely tempting to think about your business and perhaps shelve your entrepreneurial plans. After all, how tempting is this for a beach…
With the year almost a month old now, I figured it really was time to get my first post up for the year. I’ve written in the past about new year business boosters and I thought I’d kick 2009 off with five New Year recession busters.. yes, it simply rolls off the tongue. I realise there are probably many thousands of posts like this out there, but still, I may have some slightly different ideas up my sleeve.
So here goes, here are 5 ideas to help steer you through the recession, which in the UK at least was officially recognised today.
1. STOP reading the newspaper and watching CNN, or the BBC. OK so we all know that the economy is pretty bleak, but what can you actually do about it apart from putting the maximum effort into your business. It’s much easier to do this if you aren’t bogged down in talk of recession, falling house prices, job losses and the rest. To quote Chris Cardell
“The greatest threat to your business over the next year is not the economy. It’s fear. While we do need to address the recession head on – the fear mongering in the media is extremely unhelpful.”
2. Watch your overheads and look for cost savings. Ok, so it’s hardly visionary stuff, but take a careful look through your expenses and see where you can weed out some costs savings. Do you really need the water cooler, is it still worth paying for the extended warranty on your PC, why is it your petty cash is always empty half way through the month, are you sure you want to be paying for your employees personal calls… you get the idea. Only spend on the essentials for servicing existing clients, or winning new ones.
3. Make everyone a sales manager. How many people in your team are responsible for selling? My advice is to make everyone responsible, from your secretary, to your cleaner, to the financial controller and the shop floor worker. How do you do this? The first step is to provide everyone with the information they need to sell, i.e. provide a little training. The crucial next step is to incentivise everyone to sell. In today’s economic climate that shouldn’t be too hard, just provide some financial incentive e.g. a bonus for every employee linked to a certain profit level or sales performance. Make sure of course everyone understands the ramifications of falling sales to them!
4. Build a smart marketing programme. You might already have a marketing plan in place, but review it carefully and look for any items linked to measures around brand building, or tactics where results may be difficult to measure or more long term in nature, such as public relations. Refocus the plan to include tactics that are more likely to induce a sale, such as special offers and sales promotions, telemarketing, direct mail or sales led events and exhibitions.
5. Segment and target. Or divide and conquer as you may know it. Essentially look to reach out to those target customer segments who are more likely to have some budget available. For example, people working in the public sector who will find their jobs fairly secure thanks to huge investments in public sector projects from governments around the world. At the same time, build on your areas of expertise and don’t try to sell you wares to too broad an audience – the costs of doing so will be enourmous. Focus on you core target customer segments.
6. Don’t forget to keep reading the marketingblagger.com. Yes, I know that’s six and a little bit cheeky, but like most of you, I’m genuinely running a small business and also work with plenty of other small businesses. As such, I’ll keep sharing ideas and posting up experiences here a lot more regularly. I’m planning on finishing my 101 Shoestring Marketing ebook soon, along with posting up some inspirational ideas from small businesses everywhere. A great example is the photo below, which I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time. Hats off to anyone who can tell me why you think I like this marketing idea so much..
Well, I wish everyone a huge amount of success in 2009. It’s not going to be easy but I love a challenge, to quote a colleague of mine from Granit, a London based architecture practice.