No more free coffee, the outside marketing firm has been dismissed?  Across the country more and more businesses are continuing the belt tightening and reigning in expenses.  Just the staples supplies needed to function is what all that appears to be purchased these days. But is this thinking a mistake or is it just wise business? Thus, the  answer depends on the level of your optimism.   Are the obstacles we’re facing just a temporary hiccup or will these doldrums go on for years? 

I am optimistic. But then again, what other choice do I have?    The one thing you can control for sure is your attitude. Therefore, our company is moving forward with an eye on dominating our niche regardless of the conditions.  There is no other alternative.  Without this mindset, you’ll drive yourself crazy and your business may die a slow and painful death.  America has seen worse and each time when the odds were stacked against her, she not only survived, but came back even stronger.   I believe that no politician can truly hold back the American spirit once it gets motivated.   The pressure is building even now.  Admittedly, I’m a bit naive so I realize that attitudes along can carry you only part of the way.  .  You must maintain a pragmatic position as well.

Therefore, take this opportunity to do exactly what your competitors will refuse to do.    Get aggressive and expand in whatever way you can.   Perhaps it’s offering more services or products, or perhaps it’s investing in new technologies.  Whatever the case may be, may this time be your magic moment  when you seize what looks like despair and pull ahead of your more complacent rival.  After all many of the big companies we enjoy today had their big move during the gloom of the Great Depression.  One “little” company was Proctor & Gamble; another was the radio industry in general.  In our industry Smead Manufacturing, the makers of Smead file folders weathered the depression under younger more aggressive leadership.  What was a major contributor to this growth?  Both anecdotal and empirical evidence support the case that advertising was the main factor in the growth or downfall of companies during those years.  To put it bluntly, the companies which demonstrated the most growth and which rang up the most sales were those which advertised heavily.  The Great Depression offers classic examples of the power of brand advertising even during times of economic crisis.

Fast forward to today and you’ll see that advertising has multiple meanings. From manually distributing your material, to traditional print, to tv and radio, to internet and of course to the latest darling, social media, you have at your disposal infinite m ore options than did the successful companies of the Depression. At your fingertips right now are methodologies properly employed will benefit you tremendously.  Use them. 

I know that you know what most companies do…don’t you?   Nothing.  And that’s good news for you.   Money may be tight but you’ll start taking a little from a lot whereas your competition was geared up to take a lot from a little. Let those other foolish companies nix their marketing.  Do not mirror this snap decision. 

The situation is not hopeless.  There is money to be made for the nimble and the smart ready to rethink and ready to reinvent.  Here are some key points to remember: 

  • To combat slow sales, learn to sell differently. 
  • You better prepare your business for ecommerce.  It’s not going anywhere.
  • Take full advantage of the free advertising vehicles that exist. (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Social Bookmarking, etc.)
  • Focus on you website’s SEO and search engine position.  It is the battle ground you eventually must face.   Do it now if you’ve avoided this.
  • Use every free tool you can to promote your website and gain valuable traffic. (blog, e-mail market, article writing, etc)
  • Be it a web designer or SEM guru, hire any verifiable expert you can afford to help move your message quickly and effectively.
  • Don’t be so quick to lower all your prices as your only offensive maneuver.
  • Maintain a healthy positive attitude.  The alternative is pretty awful.
  • Vote out incompetent politicians that have strangled business growth but don’t spend you mental energy blaming them.
  • Be proactive and consider joint ventures with companies associated with your industry but not direct competitor (example:office supplies and the copy machine industry often target the same person).

This boils down to your commitment to creativity and your willingness to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Let your competitor’s indecision drive him out of business while you seek to become more and more relevant.  As this happens, you’ll find you’ve become a success despite the economic odds.