Hunker down? Not if you are going to come out ahead.
2008 is going to be remembered for a great number of things, both good and bad. Some brands are marking 2008 on their tombstones. Read AP News article on the demise of some best known brands
And a bunch are going to mark 2009 as a critical turning point in their success. So what should you do? What are you doing? Are you sitting, hunkered down, waiting? Why? Take action, put your teams to work, get them thinking, talk to your customers, train your employees, polish your brand, and…. ACT!
Three Steps to focus on:
Talk to your best customers, your oldest customers, those that honor your relationship. Business is available to companies with authentic and relevant brands. It might not be as large an opportunity as last year. It might require some flexible pricing, or timing, or a few less bells and whistles. Get creative. Talk, really really talk to your customers. Go visit them, review where they are going and offer them some insight into their market. Arrange conference calls between their team and yours. Do some collective idea development.
Think about it, your customers exist in the same atmosphere you do, they have to do business to survive. They are looking for strong, resilient partners, so call them, talk to them, engage them. Find ways to help them and they will do business with you.
Improve your product, service or capabilities. Put your team to work in a different way. Put together a tiger team consisting of marketing, sales, operations and engineering and have them identify all the ways to improve a product. Have your store staff visit a competitor and note all of the displays that work, and those that don’t, by oberving customers, then make sure yours are updated. Train your inside staff on customer service, then they will know how to better support the outside staff. Put your executive team on the phones with your key strategic partners and find out how and what they are doing to drive business.
Remember, your team is looking to you for leadership, strength and direction.
Create and put a three year brand development plan in place. Big company or small. B2B or B2C. Product based or service driven. This means every company. At the heart of every great company is a Great Brand. And Great Brands don’t just happen. They are planned for. The best plans are written down, shared through out the organization and reviewed frequently. Writing a plan down makes it real, concrete. It gives a company a starting place AND a place to shoot for, a goal. Teams, Departments, Companies, Enterprises…. all work better with a plan and a goal.
Involve the whole company. A complete Brand Development plan should have input from all functional areas. Break the plan up into functional areas and have each area work on their portion. Then create cross-functional teams to identify gaps and areas of disconect. Consider having opposite teams review each others work. Fresh eyes work wonders.
So for 2009, what’s it going to be? R.I.P or O.T.T.? Now is an opportunity to bring your organization together in a way that can not be done when times are good. So get going and start building your brand. Now is the time and when this time is over, you will have a brand and an organization ready to take advantage of up time and go Over The Top!