Just when we think we’ve grasped what’s happening in business, something changes to disrupt the precarious balance. It may occur in the economy, an industry, a region, a particular market or technology that alters even the most flexible business plan.
Establishing a strategy, then staying with it, was possible for most businesses until the last decade. Planning a year or more in advance was relatively easy. Ups and downs would occur but with a high degree of predictability. Hitting sales and revenue targets was almost taken for granted.
Now, dramatic changes in technology, international conditions and distribution channels are constantly upsetting the balance. Banks are looking more like insurance agencies and insurance agencies are quickly taking on the characteristics of banks. Wal-Mart had long avoided selling name brand fashions–until the nation’s department store companies were reconfigured and
downsized. Suddenly, Wal-Mart saw an opportunity to move brand-name clothing lines.
How can a business cope with a marketplace where erratic conditions are–and will be–the norm? What is required is a strategy that takes constant change into account. Even with notable disruption, it is possible to attract new customers, keep present ones and increase sales.
Here are 24 practical, useful, put-them-to-work-now ideas for building business in unpredictable business conditions.
1.Boost sales by getting sharp.
Yes, how a company presents itself makes a difference. Is the logo appropriate? Is it dated? Does it communicate the right message and the correct image? Is the president the only one who understands it? What about the company colors? Are they reminiscent of the late fifties? Do the
letterhead, mailing labels and business cards convey a strong, positive message? Or, are they dull and ordinary looking? If you don’t think this is important, your competitors will be thrilled. Corporate identity is the face you put on your company.
2. Boost sales by targeting the right person.
The big job in marketing and sales is getting to the right people inside a company. Addressing mail to “Facilities Manger” or printing a “routing slip” on the outside of the envelope is ineffective. Hitting the target is the challenge. Scoring a bull’s eye means making contact with the right individuals and is the only way to make the sale. Taking time to be highly targeted in business communication is essential.
3. Boost sales by telling the story one piece at a time.
There’s a tendency to jam everything about a business into one brochure, ad or newsletter. “What have we left out?” is the most common question. The difficult job is to pull it all apart, break ideas into their component parts and then roll out a continuing, intriguing campaign. Communicating a message over a period of time works best because it allows it to sink in slowly.
4.Boost sales by focusing on what customers care about.
After listening to the admissions director talk about what should be shown in the school’s new recruiting video, the marketing consultant asked, “Is this what parents and prospective students are interested in knowing?” Suddenly, everyone became less confident. Someone suggested asking the student tour guides what questions the visiting parents and kids asked? Whether creating an ad, a brochure, or a sales presentation, knowing what the customer wants, needs and expects is what works.
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