After reviewing over 200 business responses to Groups on LinkedIn we picked 15 of the strongest themes and boiled them down to the bare bones of inspiration that with some daring and leadership can change your business's future. Regardless of competition, the economy, your customers or your financial position it is possible to reinvent or reshape your business.
1. Think Extra Gigantic - Instead of watching the numbers shrink or scraggily signal digit growth ask, "How can I reach 10x more customer than before?" There are customers out there but they may be further away. If you market to a city, talk to 10 cities, if you promote to a province/state talk to the country, if you talk to a country go global. Response rates are a percentage game, change the odds.
2. Rip Up The Marketing/Business Plan - What your business model was 6 and 18 months ago may not be right for the next 18 months. If you are successful, rip it up anyways, there are gigantic changes going on in social, economic and industry structures. If you are struggling, step outside the box and ask who's doing better then you and find a way to imitate and do what they do even better.
3. Find Your Suppliers Hidden Ace - Ask them how they can pull out all the stops to help your growth. It may be credit terms, price reductions, exclusivity on a new product line, or co-op advertising dollars. They probably have an ace up their sleeve you haven't capitalized on yet.
4. Ruthlessly Look For What Customers Want - Your customer's know what they want and what will motivate them to take action. Interview one-on-one, hold group discussions, survey, throw a social, run a contest. Your next biggest successes are in your customer's needs not met yet. Don't stop searching until you get a powerful breakthrough. If you can't find it you're not looking hard enough.
5. Demand to Know Why Prospects Aren't Buying - Within this simple and obvious search an astounding revelation will emerge about what they are looking to buy and from who if not with you. Do not stop until the pattern emerges. When it shows up find a way to give them what they want know matter what you have to do.
6. Mimic Another Industry - A lot of companies get stuck in, "but that's what our industry does". A close study of an industry that is healthy will reveal different ways to market, brand, sell products/services, manage financials, handle inventory, etc. Or look at a very successful business similar to yours in another country and bring those ideas back home.
7. Create Mega Contact Databases - With so many advertising budget cuts there are a lot of businesses that compliment what you sell and will be open to co-promoting to your database in return for you talking to there's. With 3 or more companies working together your reach expands exponentially.
8. Throw Out Everything You Know About Traditional Advertising - A number of major media channels are seeing up to a 40% drop in ad spend and yet customers are still buying. Fearlessly consider any media you may have overlooked. Online spending of every type is steadily increasing. Don't let your competition gain dominance that you can't afford to compete with later.
9. Create A Ruckus People Will Talk About - Break out of what was safe advertising before, chances are you are nearly invisible by doing what you did 18 months ago. A huge amount of business is circulating by word of mouth. Swallow the fear and try something dramatic so people talk.
10. Mercilessly Rip Apart Your Product/Services - Part of what is stopping your success is lethargic lines. If your customers are happily buying or occasionally buying, get rid of those services. Do whatever you have to do find out what your customer's are demanding and watch sales take off.
11. Learn How To Do Right Brain Marketing - This is a new term we've coined to help all the traditional marketers look at the world differently. An undeniable social trend is emerging for mass micro marketing where customers want real time transparent, human, non-selling relationships. This online relationship defies the old rules but pays off by gaining interactive brand loyalty.
12. Become Crazily Visible - As competition cuts back on advertising spend customers hold off on spending as everyone says "these are bad times". Don't pay attention. Find every way to be visible more often, in more places, with more interesting things to follow than anyone in your industry. If budgets are tight there spectacular ways to go online and get exposure to millions of customers without spending a penny in cash, but it will get spent in time building a "cashfree" visibility.
13. Do A Shiny Brand Makeover - It's possible your customer's don't see you because they literally don't see you. As your customers revaluate who they want to buy from they may have crossed you off the list. But... if you simply repackage with a bright new shiny look (appropriate to your market) you may change their perception of who you are and give you another chance.
14. Get A PHD in Basics - A spectacular number of businesses are going back to good old selling relationships, retraining, CRM (customer relationship management), financials, cost management, etc. Guess what - they're actually kicking but and making money with really simple ideas.
15. Give Bad News the Boot - Ever notice that when you want to see a silver car it suddenly seems like everyone is driving one? We are our own worst enemy at seeing with the wrong perspective. Ask yourself repeatedly "where are the big wins?" Ask everyone around you; ask staff, customers, and other companies. Literally within days a totally different picture will start emerging.
Article by Andrew Ballenthin, President of Sol Solutions. When you need to stand apart from your competition talk to Sol Solutions for your competitive branding, advertising and marketing strategies. For more information go to our blog http://www.communitymarketing.typepad.com or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/solsolutions
My passion has been driven by the enjoyment of blending creative with need for practical application and results orientation. Having worked with international corporations, national businesses and entrepreneurs it's easy to switch hats and scale for the vision and budget of the organization.
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