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Five Proven Improvements Your Business Must Make During this Recession

Things to do for your business in 2009

Of course it’s easy to slump in our chair and wish things were as simple as they were two years ago. We reflect on an image of bon vivant behavior and business just seemed to slide under the door. But let’s face it; many businesses became fat and dumb including your customers. Many of them weren’t thinking about being lean, fast and efficient. They were spending more time looking at how to keep the stock price up in an era of financial froth instead of focusing on meeting the needs of their buyers while driving their own long term costs down. The Era of Froth has been transformed into The Era of Authentic Value. Here’s the stiff drink of the day for these folks; our environment shapes us in so many ways. Be honest with yourself, what kind of culture had your company allowed to develop?

You may have won the 100 meters in the Olympics. But if you sit around for the next twenty years, your muscles atrophy and now you perform just like everybody else. This has been an environment of atrophy and sloppiness that is now asking all of us to develop forgotten muscles, learn new habits and apply best-practices. It’s asking us to be better and it’s teasing us to be great. Let’s answer the bell with enthusiasm, hope and gratitude. Our buyers will notice and gravitate toward our strength in their own moments of personal doubt. What we need to believe in first:

A company that is passionately and operationally focused on gaining more Buyers will thrive in any market.

Let’s look at 5 things we must do now to rise above the crowd:

Focus on the Money - where it is and where it's going
Focus on a few established markets we knowneed our offerings to either create more revenue for themselves or lower their operating costs –let’s be candid, if the offering doesn’t work in an established market (lower risk for us) and solve either a front end or back end money question, the buyer’s decision cycle could be out of a two year horizon.

Learn your Buyers well and meet their needs Get inside the heads of our buyers, what are their motivations, why would they care about our offerings? What is the “so what” of our offering and why will they feel remorse if they do nothing? Once we know this, we will want to document it and begin our marketing communications plan. By the way, this is a big reason I get passionate about marketing – it gives a company a reason to exist. Once we determine why our buyers care about our existence; that becomes our mission to constantly improve our offerings.

Project Credible Results
As soon as we can, help a buyer in our selected markets start using our solutions even if it’s at cost so we can project results into the broader segment. Shared risk is a good strategy for a start up organization or a new offering. Without credibility, all near term sales just became longer and more expensive. Solve this by getting early adopters who are happy to tell their story and look smart.

Use Process and Automation to drive Efficiencies
Start work on a plan to incorporate technology and process to get more buyers, improve customer service, lower customer acquisition costs and gain knowledge. This is a big topic that includes marketing, sales and financial operations, but it must be done and can be tackled in small stages. To sit on our hands would be to lose. To get directionally correct, define your processes first and consider some kind of a Customer Relationship Management solution which would include Sales Force Automation, Marketing Automation and some insightful analytics. That’s just ante in the game. There is more to this including social media activity that lowers marketing costs, but the point is to use technology and process where you may have depended on human interaction. It doesn’t mean we are letting people go, we are looking for better places to put them to add value to our buyer relationships and drive efficiencies. For many companies, there is a great deal of low hanging fruit to be found here.

Define the Good Fight and Fight it with a Singular Purpose
Instill a warrior-poet culture. Hopefully, our people are thoughtful, kind, patient, considerate and humble. They are willing to put others before themselves because they realize that only through helping others can they live a more complete life even if those they help don’t recognize it all the time. Add to this the heart of a warrior. Courage, dedication and strategy must be brought to the environment. A business that exists is society’s way of saying that the business has value. Lose that value and there is no need for the existence of that business. The warrior-poet is fighting the good fight based on the needs of the buyer because they understand this simple and universal fact; Focus on the buyer and the weightiest of our big issues will be solved. This culture gives everyone a reason to hop out of bed in the morning and focus on the few things that truly matter.

If your business does these five things, there is no doubt it will improve. If you don’t have a plan to take these actions, you start to look like everyone else. The hero’s journey begins by staring into the unknown and deciding that what a person knows about themselves will transcend the journey. On the other side of this recession, will you have improved or stayed the same? This is your time and an obvious opportunity to leave your competitors behind who didn’t.

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More Stories By John Ryan

John is an experienced leader with a strong background of defining and executing company strategies. He is especially skilled in channel management, market analysis, brand marketing and selling technology products and services. He has successfully served in a number of executive positions and has been in management for 20 years. John is currently writing a book on increasing revenue generation. He has been a co-author of a comprehensive marketing methodology for high tech companies and has helped venture capitalists and private equity firms gauge their technology investments. In 2004, John served as Vice President of Marketing for the NA arm of the $6B IT Services division of Siemens, AG. John served on the board of directors at WebTrends, purchased by NetIQ (NTIQ) for $1 billion in 2001. WebTrends was highly successful dominating the web site analysis and reporting space. Prior to WebTrends, John was the Vice President of Marketing for Tivoli Systems. John has worked as a contracted consultant for established companies, start ups and top analyst firms. John can be reached at john@johnwryan.com or you can follow him on Twitter @buyersteps