2010 – The First Milestone

April 2nd marks the end of the first quarter of 2010.  We are ¼ of the way through the year, a milestone as we race toward December 31, 2010.

Last year I wrote that 2010 would be a continuation of the slow economic movement that was evident in 2009, and that CMOs needed to act accordingly; extract more revenue from their customer base, only introduce products that were significantly different and game changers, provide outstanding customer service, etc.

At this milestone in 2010 I see 4 elements (Dick calls them surrounds) that will continue to influence the economic climate for the balance of this year, and potentially beyond.  They are:

  1. Unemployment. The number of under and un-employed workers in the US is still in excess of 20M people.  Most economists who talk about this “issue” seem to feel that the roughly 9+% unemployed won’t change significantly over the course of 2010.  More disturbing is that safety-net funding that has allowed many people to scrape by will expire, leaving a large segment of the population at risk.
  2. Housing. It seems that realtors have taken the place of used-car salesmen or carnival pitch men.  Every number or statistic is pounced on and declared to be “good” or “better” than last month or a year ago.  Some facts remain.  In certain parts of the country there are a large number of foreclosed houses, which are depressing housing prices.  Many people live in houses where they owe more than the house is currently worth.  Both of these situations have a negative impact the housing market, one due to an excess of inventory and one which is keeping people from moving
  3. The Government.  – Federal. Now that the health care battle is behind us (somewhat) the Government can turn to two important items; job creation and providing an extended safety net for those who no longer have any support.  Unless something creative is done, both will require spending monies that we don’t have. Spending seems to be the norm in an election year, but when added to the other recent expenditures and bailouts it will create longer term issues.
  4. The Government – State and Local. Most state governments are operating in the red due to decreased revenue and increasing expenditures.  At some point State and Local governments are going to have to balance their budgets, either by increasing revenues (raising taxes) and decreasing expenditures (larger classes, no road repair, fewer fire and policemen, etc.)  As Tip O’Neil said, “All politics is local.”  If costs are going up and services down on a local basis, people become unhappy.


Taken together, these 4 "surrounds" paint a depressing picture.  It is this attitude that is facing today’s CMO on a daily basis.  His/her challenge is to rise above it and differentiate the firm’s product and define the company as a winner:

  • Test your strategy…make sure it is still viable for the balance of 2010.
  • Clearly communicate to your installed base and adjacent target markets your value proposition.  If possible enhance it through packaging or the introduction of bundled products that provide even greater value.
  • Reinforce your brand through the use of social media and new technologies.  This will not only help you, it will generate a positive halo effect on your employees.
  • Celebrate small success.  Unless you have made a killer introduction or your competition has all gone out of business, 2010 is going to be flat to slightly up.  (Management that is demanding growth in market share and increased margins should share their meds.)  So, when success happens during the year, celebrate it; whether it is adding the Xth person to the sales pipeline, or re-upping the oldest customer, let everyone know about it.

One of the best quotes I have heard over the past 2 years went something like this:  “We have studied each of the 39 recessions since the country was founded, and discovered that each one ended.”  This economic downturn will end, and while it may take longer than everyone wants, setting realistic goals and working with implementable strategies will result in progress, profitability and hopefully happiness.

Where do you stand at this milestone? Are you celebrating small success?

Related Posts

  1. https://firealarmmarketing.com/2009/10/29/guide-for-the-cmo-in-planning-2010/
  2. https://firealarmmarketing.com/2009/10/22/the-only-metric-to-use-in-2010-planning/
  3. https://firealarmmarketing.com/2009/09/01/a-checklist-for-making-the-year/

RHM  4/1/2010

1 comment to 2010 – The First Milestone

  • Bob:

    One way a product company can differentiate themselves is by offering or providing at a fee, services to their customers. Example: If a company sells forklifts, why not provide driver training. Think about how services in addition to product build long-term customer loyalty.


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