I love reading the morning newspaper. The actual get-your-fingers-covered-with-newsprint paper newspaper. I rue the day when it is just too financially unacceptable for the Fourth Estate to continue rolling the presses. I try to avoid my newspaper’s new “Morning Edition” because all too often it is filled with death and disaster news. I don’t want to fill my brain with this kind of info at the beginning of my day. I peruse the living section, see what movie reviews are available, look at the local entertainment calendar – today I learned that this weekend in my community there will be over 30 bands in my downtown celebrating everything “guitar.” I think I’ll go…it’s free. I always read over the business section. My own business is small – I am a home-based business owner – but you never know when you’ll run across some “big time” biz news that could affect your decisions or effect your business directly.
Yesterday was coverage of Apple Corp.’s big meeting that welcomed co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs to the stage. What interested me the most about the article was the fact that the meeting did not unveil some magnificently whiz-bang new product to the marketplace. Rather, as the article reads in my newspaper [online the article was updated],
- “…But Job’s appearance marked the only real surprise at the otherwise low-key affair in which the company announced some modest updates to its music products…Preshow rumors to the contrary, Apple didn’t unveil its long-expected tablet computer, didn’t introduce a new streaming video service and didn’t kill the venerable iPod classic…Analysts at the event said Apple was wise to make incremental changes to existing products rather than roll out radical new offerings. The poor state of the economy makes it harder to sell consumers on anything entirely new, they said….”
I read this and found myself thinking about those of us who have small and home-based businesses and how the economy makes it difficult to stay afloat. What occurred to me is that we should all – for the present time – stick to the basics; do what we do best; “keep on keeping on” as the saying goes. It made me think, that to weather the economic storm, we might:
- check and double-check our current business plan; bring up-to-date our stated vision and mission statement; determine if we are on target
- check and double-check our current business strategies: are we in the correct marketplace for our products or services? Are we actually and effectively reaching our desired customer-base? Are we sure we’ve correctly identified our customer base and know how to communicate with them?
- keep our products and services clean, polished and ready to deliver. Maybe, like Apple, we aren’t going to roll out new and improved products…but we ought to be proud to represent the products and services we have in our current inventory
- contact our customers – have we shown our current customers that we appreciate their business? It is not just a cliche saying that ‘happy customers bring referrals,’ it is a truism: satisfied and happy customers will often be a good source for new customers…have you asked your customers for referrals?
This is not to say that you oughtn’t to try anything new during an economic downturn; to the contrary, one thing you could do is experiment with new ways of communicating with your customers, find new ways of finding customers. If you aren’t already, make internet marketing a part of your strategic communication and marketing plan. You don’t have to get complicated to start, begin small:
- build a web page...or do a little web page redesign and clean-up
- tout your business on a few top social media sites like Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn
- direct people to your website by writing articles
- anything new or improved you do, write and submit a press release about it
- start a blog, either as a part of your business web page, or independently [and have it point back to your business web page]
- if appropriate for your business: (1) have classified and display ads in your local newspaper and regional magazines; (2) run radio and/or television spots; (3) arrange speaking engagements for yourself at local groups who might be interested in your area of expertise; (4) leave your business card everywhere and with everyone
The present economy might not be the rosiest to look at, but you don’t have to let it ruin your day…or your business. Just keep doing what is working and use the present climate as a time for continuous improvement. Just a thought.