February 13, 2009
Economic Turmoil Creates Great Opportunity
~ written by Tim W. Hrastar
Studies for the last five decades have shown that during economic down-turns companies that have not cut their marketing budgets, and in many cases increased them, have always had higher profits, and gained more market share than companies who have cuts. That makes perfect sense, yet what is one of the first things an organization does when business slows? They usually start cutting overhead, which is a good tactic; however, they see marketing and business development as overhead costs, rather than an investment in current and future business. This short-sighted business approach will ensure that you are left behind. Don’t fall into this trap!
Change, especially negative change, is an excellent opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and force us to take control of the situation. Although we may not like the current economic turmoil and uncertainty it creates, we need to look at it as an opportunity to shake off our complacency as we head into the future. We can’t change the past, but we can influence the future by what we do today. It may seem that the economic turmoil will last forever, but it never does. Be prepared now with plans to help your clients’ weather this storm and move into a brighter future ahead of their competition.
You can look at the current economic situation as being the opposite of what we have experienced the last few years. So when things flip around and become opposite you need to do the same. For example, if you do real estate work perhaps a lot of the things you were doing for clients during good times may have dried up. Think the opposite. Now may be a good time to re-negotiate leases, and help them consolidate their holdings when it comes to their office space. Or counsel them on searching out some good deals created by bad times. The point is you have to believe that your clients need you now, more than ever. Depending on your practice area, you may be experiencing business as usual, or maybe even more business than usual. That’s great – keep going! Here are two things you can do this week to take the initiative to help your clients succeed.
Marketing consists of everything you do to attract clients – website, brochures, advertising, etc. Business development is the personal contact that brings the client into your office.
If you’re a small or medium size firm without an in-house marketing department, you should consider hiring a marketing consultant to assist you in your strategy. Done right and the cost will quickly be paid for by new and additional business with current clients and new business with new clients. You have to have a plan, which doesn’t have to be complicated – the simpler the better – because you’ll be more apt to put it to work. Then you have to implement and monitor the plan to ensure success. Get some help today.
Business Development Activities
The second thing you can do is make as much face-to-face contact with your best clients. Start at the top. Take them to lunch, meet at their office, but make sure you have an in-person meeting with them, not just through email and the telephone. Face-to-face contact. Clients need reassurance. The more you show you care for them and their needs now, the more loyal they will be after this storm has subsided.
Find out what their concerns are, and how you can help them. This is a perfect time to have discussions with your client about what they need to be doing to protect and position themselves when the economy turns around. Remember, they are going to be in a change mode just like the rest of us. You need to be the catalyst to help them do it.