Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pretender or Contender—Life in a New Economy

The recession is over! It has been proclaimed by economists, legislators, and the media. It must be true. After all we believed them when they told us we were in a recession. And their message of doom and gloom led to one of the most difficult economic periods since the Great Depression.

Don’t get me wrong. There were other factors which accounted for the difficult financial times we have come through. Starting with banks making poor lending decisions, an auto industry’s sagging profits due to competition, poor management and greedy unions, and a healthcare system which has allowed profitability to take precedence over patient needs.

On top of all of this we have a government whose interference continues to be a detriment to economic recovery. The idea of government intervention in managing business is ludicrous. They need to focus on managing government not micromanaging the private sector. What has always made business successful is the ability to be free for innovation, product development and self management. We need to allow the free market system to work. The way that will happen is for it to be self driven and self controlled.

I will get off my soap box and focus on what is most important to you. Now it is time to get on with the business of building back your business. As consumers regain confidence they will begin to let loose of their discretionary money and you will want to be ready by having the products and services they desire. Now is the time to decide whether you are going to get serious about your business as a contender or continue to put in a half-hearted effort and remain a pretender.

There are three things I want you to consider: 1. Break out of survivor mode, 2. Marketing to the consumer mindset and, 3. Gain your competitions lost market share.

First, you need to change your mind-set. For the past two years many small business owners have buckled down and gone into a mode of just getting by. Scrimping in areas of their business which they felt were unnecessary. Two years ago this was wise but now is the time to rethink your business especially in the areas of marketing and promotion.

For those of you in the photographic and service industries you will want to pay particular attention to the social marketing opportunities which exist. This is one of the fastest growing segments of marketing. Why, because the internet has become the new hotspot. It is where people interact, they talk and seek information. Social networking will be vital to a small business success in the future. Be ready. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and the like will become some of the most powerful marketing tools available.

Next, become proactive in your marketing efforts. Consumers are looking for a deal. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your sales. Small business owners will need to become more innovative and creative in their product offerings and pricing structures in order to stay viable in the new economy. The need to offer products in ways never considered before may be what keeps you in business.

If you are going to truly be a long-term contender you will need to become serious about your desire to be in business. The business hobbyists will not be able to survive. Having a solid financial and marketing plan based in realistic goals will be critical.

Finally, you want to take advantage of your competitions lack of marketing during the hard economic times and their lack of preparedness in marketing in the new economy. Seek out weaknesses in your competition and exploit them to your full advantage. If they are not going to work to get customers back then it is up to you to show their lost customers what you can do for them.

There will be businesses who fail, they will be the ones who were not willing or able to adapt or commit to the challenges of a new business climate. There will be businesses that will succeed, those who have studied and planned to create a plan for how they will contend in the market place. They will have created adaptability and the ability to contend in a new economy.

Contender or pretender, it is up to you to determine whether your business is important enough to make the tough decisions and be a contender.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Great post! My wife is a photographer and I am not quite sure how a startup photography business could have been possible before the social media.
I also second the recommendation to make marketing a priority. You can't just put up a bill board with a catchy slogan anymore. Marketing is constant and fully integrated into your business. But most small businesses ignore their true marketing opportunities.