2009 is a year that will repeatedly leave our collective jaws dropped. Recently, we heard that the FDIC, the organization built to insure our money is guaranteed in the US banking system, is in jeopardy. What? Is there no safe ground? I say no, there isn’t, and that means you are hereby granted license to try some business decisions that might not have been considered best practices until this year. Look over at that pasture. It’s not so green any more. You’re not sustaining, or you’re okay today, but tomorrow looks like the grass might get brown and brittle. Time to consider a few sacred cows.
Death to the Cubicle
You know that office real estate is a huge expense. Do some quick math on your cost per square foot. Now, get out that measuring tape and figure out your staff’s cubicle footprint. Add to that your IT infrastructure costs, your telecom costs, your power consumption, your other office amenities, your plumbing-per-employee numbers. Is that number ever going to be lower than buying a bunch of new laptops, some smart phones, and subsidizing your staff’s Internet and phone bills? You tell me. I’m betting no. Web commuting is here, has been here, and is your new savings device. One cow gone.
Location, Location, Relocation
While you’re at it, get out the atlases. There are better places to find your resources than in the senior team’s selected headquarters location. Places like Billings, Montana, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Fort Wayne, Indiana have huge broadband infrastructure projects, better employee salary costs, and extra programs to promote business growth and related projects. This is the wired world. You must reconsider the “have to see them to prove they’re working” mentality. Moo.
Mainstream Marketing Spend
Okay, let’s not kill this cow, but let’s raise a few calfs to go with it. Internet marketing and social media lop a zero or two off any typical ad budget. As mainstream print, radio, and TV circulation plummet, restructure, and struggle to find their new voice, Internet marketing including content marketing, community platforms, and affiliate marketing (based on the cost-per-action model) are proving to be low-cost, targetable, flexible alternatives. You’re reading this on a blog, so I’m preaching to the choir, but go back and look at your company’s marketing spend, all of it. Make room in the barn for a few new little cows.
All three suggestions require shifts in business process. If you have web commuters, policies have to move to “performance-based measurement.” Instead of considering someone effective because they’ve been in their cube for 9 hours, they now have to prove themselves by turning in work and making effective decisions. Collaboration while remote can be difficult without tools like virtual meeting software and VoIP tools, etc. You might want to take some of your savings and put them into implementing an internal collaboration platform, and put some into management consulting to shift your processes around.
Your senior teams and sales processes need to understand a whole new set of measurements for the Internet marketing space, beginning with the fact that all the numbers from online seem so much smaller. One reason they seem smaller is that they’re more accurate.
Everything is measurable online, at least to some extent. Be braced to see differences in metrics like “reach” or “awareness” or “impressions,” and instead put your focus on “sales,” “leads,” “conversions,” and “engagement.”
As the economy’s turmoil pushes many into a risk-averse herd mentality, you have an opportunity to push forward in a new capacity by rethinking those sacred cows. There’s nothing sacred, and business books will be quite interesting in the next several years following this time in history. How will people be writing about your company?