When the talking heads want you to think that you have NO control over the economy or the future success of your business; thinking what you want to think is the most empowering thing you can do for the success of your business.
What if Galileo decided to believe that the Sun revolved around the Earth? What if the Wright Brothers accepted that people didn’t fly? What if Columbus believed that the Earth was flat? What if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs believed computers weren’t for people, just companies. All of these people thought what THEY wanted to think. They held on to what they believed was true and their life was a pursuit of bringing that truth to life so that other people could see it too.
Re-Think Your Marketing Mission
Take just one day and don’t listen to the news or read the paper. Use this time to truly re-think your industry, your customers’ needs and the role of your business in fulfilling those needs. Your objective here is to look at your customers and their needs WITHOUT the economy muddying the real issues that they are having. What’s happening in the economy is happening on paper. What’s happening in your business is real dollars and cents. So don’t let paper value interfere with real on-going value that you provide.
Talk Heart- to- Heart with Customers
This is the perfect time to meet with your customers and have a heart-to-heart. Take the time to develop your questions and discussion points. Lay them out as a worksheet that includes the customer name and the name and contact information of the person you’re talking to. Run this as a process.
Here are some discussion points:
- In what ways (if any) has your business been affected by the changes in the economy? Be specific. Don’t assume that the economic situation has trashed everyone’s business. Listen carefully, and take some notes.
- In what ways have YOUR customers been affected? Are payment terms longer? Are they depleting their inventories?
- What are your biggest challenges right now?
- What are your priorities over the next year?
- Where do you want to take your business?
The underlying question that you’re trying to answer is “How can I help?” The goal is to ask questions that will get to the root of what your customer is dealing with so that you can create more targeted and valuable offerings that will have them choose you over anyone else. Remember when customers complain about price and want concessions, it’s because they don’t know why to choose you. Just going through this process with your ideal customers will build value.
Run this discussion with your best and ideal customers. The more customers you talk to, the better your information, and the more value you will build for yourself in their eyes.
Apply What You’ve Learned to Build More Value
Your next step is to pull all your worksheets together and answer these questions:
- What do my customers need the most right now?
- In what ways can I provide that within the boundaries of my business and mission?
Think Differently Act Consistently
While you may have cut your marketing budget and may be questioning many other expenses, NEVER stop working your marketing process. Focus on what sets your business apart and apply that brand promise to developing new offerings that carry more value.
Choose to think what you want to think. Create offerings that are rooted in providing real value that you’ve uncovered and focus on the positive. Your customers will be drawn to you for it.
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About the Author: Ivana Taylor has spent over 20 years helping industrial organizations and small business owners get and keep their ideal customers. Her company isThird Force and she writes a blog called Strategy Stew. She is co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers.”
Ivana is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.