While many self employed are still focused on survival; now is the time to plan for growth. The recovery is underway; those with the stamina, drive, and forethought to enhance marketing efforts now will see the benefits in increased sales.
Your clients and customers have had a tough couple years. Between reduced incomes and general fears of the economy, they’ve been forced them to rethink what and how they buy. Customers have been cutting their spending by 1) trading down to less expensive alternatives, 2) delaying buying where they can, and 3) eliminating what was merely nice-to-have.
Whatever business survival tactics you’ve have been forced to use during the recession, recovery is the time to focus on rebuilding your client loyalty and sales momentum. Your future market share growth depends on the strength of your existing customer loyalty and newly gained momentum. If you are successful at convincing people of your appeal and difference from the competition, you’ll grow sales and market share.
Your recipe will be unique to you, but when creating your claw-back strategy, consider these five ‘R’s for Recovery:
Frequently and in new ways, remind people that your product/service still offers the best solution to specific problems. Increase your advertising. In particular, add some of the new technologies that share voice and video in new ways to reach new audiences. New media increases the perception that your solution has the performance, recognition, and differentiation to solve customer problems in new ways. If you can’t spend more, make sure your efforts are well spent. Pre-test your ads, videos, and voice before committing full-out to make sure they invoke the desired response.
If you have a premium brand, offer affordable new formats such as cheaper packaging. Reinforce that you are not only still in business, you’re focused. Focus your attention on how well your product solves the problem and with uncommon value. Celebrate with positive and upbeat messages that confirm your product’s core benefits. A positive tone helps restore consumer confidence.
While the price of many things went down during the recession, premium products mostly maintained their relative price. That is, their value still commands a better price, however reduced. During this recovery, reframe your value. Seek to restate your value in new ways so you’ll both restore and retain perceptions of differentiation. This will help you sustain a premium price.
Seldom do consumers buy based on price alone. Focus on your benefits and how the customer gains an advantage using you. Convenience and effectiveness always sell, particularly when people can afford to be doing something more enjoyable. If your brand lacks a compelling functional benefit, focus on emotional
differentiation. If people have an emotional connection to your brand, they will want to return to it even if they must choose cheaper alternatives until the slowdown is over.
A compelling innovation can help regain customers who have traded down. Create well publicized easier to use packaging, new colors, flavors, or combinations. This gives customers an excuse to come back if they had traded down during the recession. But don’t change just for the sake of it. Focus on the benefit of the change in the customer’s mind.
Rally the troops
Mission critical to the recovery is your ability to focus on delivering a positive customer experience. Motivated, energized, and focused people on your team will bring your client experience up to new levels. Involve them in the decision making, the design, and the delivery.
The road to recovery is likely to be a bumpy one. Especially this recovery, which right now looks more like a meander than a highway. Don’t wait for the news to tell you that the recovery is underway. Some products and services recover earlier while others lag. Remember, economists tell you 6 months later that the recovery started 6 months ago. We need only look at the lines in our favorite restaurants, to see that people have begun spending.
If you are ready for the recovery, you’ll be first in line to win back customers and re-engage clients. Being fast and first in your recovery strategy will not only help you capitalize on improved consumer sentiment, but also counter your competitors.
Now stop reading about (The “Five R’s” of Recovery) and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.