3 Ways to Position Your Brand for Success in an Uncertain Economy
Three Ways to Position Your Brand for Success in an Uncertain Economy
I confess. I’m guilty. I spent a few days last week watching the Dow tick up and down on Yahoo Finance like a fat kid waiting for a cupcake. It sucked me in. Maybe it sucked you in, too. But just as the “glass-is-half-empty” mentality took me over, I was struck by an uplifting, “half-full” insight: the moment that things look most bleak, is the moment right before they start to improve. Many say the worst of this economic slump is far from over, yet I see modest improvements inching up all around us.
I may be biased, but I know that the positive inertia that ultimately will propel us forward will not come from the big global entities, but rather the small and middle-market businesses, the risk-takers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and big idea people — Many of the folks we have the pleasure of serving at Delia Associates each day. Alternative energy utilization, fuel efficiencies, energy-saving technologies, and more efficient ways of getting things done are all the products of small companies thinking BIG. I’ve said it before: “Innovation is not coming from the board room. It’s coming from the living room.”
The winds of change are clearly upon us, and while larger entities will be forced to play it safe, small and middle-market companies will have all the incentive in the world to take advantage of an economic climate bubbling with opportunity. While the big guys hunker down and retreat, the smart money is on those who charge in, mix things up, take the spotlight, and win new market share.
So how do you become one of those daring opportunists? What can you do to position your brand for success in these uncertain times?
- Get Customer Focused
This is something we preach in good and bad times, but it becomes especially relevant in down economies. We call our model the brand-profit pyramid. It explains why it’s so important to focus your resources, and your communications efforts, where they’ll do the most good. When faithfully adhered to, our clients realize an average increase in revenue of 30%, and some have enjoyed as much as a 50% boost in revenue. And there’s simply no downside risk. The worst that could happen is that you spend a little extra time and money helping key customers and your most promising prospects. Has doing that ever come back to bite you?
- Get Web Wise
Four years ago, I did a seminar titled “Smart Marketing in Tough Times.” The thrust of my argument: it’s time to start treating your Web site as a tool for engaging business; it’s not a toy. Today, this has never been more true. Small and mid-sized organizations can and do use the Web every day to create sales opportunities and win new business. But simply being there won’t do it. You have to be visible. You have to be findable. You have to engage visitors and have mechanisms in place to turn them into prospects. That’s why today firms like ours are spending half our time helping companies use the Web in a more meaningful and profitable way. And much of what we’re doing is improving their ranking among the major search engines through search engine optimization.
- Get an “Act-Now” Mind Set
If you’re a small or mid-sized business, forget about messaging that simply touts your brand. You shouldn’t be spending your marketing dollars that way, even in a good economy. Take a look at your Web site, brochure, direct mailer, ad campaign, etc. If there’s not a strong and clear call to action, fix it. Let the big guys use their marketing dollars to make a statement. Use yours to make a customer. Remember, the fact that times are tough doesn’t mean you have to discount and devalue what you uniquely have to offer. Customers and prospects smell fear the same way a shark smells blood. So don’t get hung up on price. Do get hung up on value. It’s a good time to revisit the late great Ed Mayer’s “26 Reasons Why People are Motivated to Buy:”