2010 Survival Tactics

Around this time last year (9/1/2009) I wrote A Checklist for Making the Year. In it I highlighted tactics that the CMO could use in working to finish out 2009 on a positive basis.

In reviewing that post a year later the tactical advice provided is just as applicable this year as last, and bears repeating:

  1. Protect and cultivate your current customers.  Losing a key customer to a competitor not only reduces revenue; it gives the competitor a weapon to go after your customers.  It is harder (more costly) to get a new customer, and very costly to lose an old customer.  To make sure that your customer base is protected, keep your customers happy.  Make them understand that their needs are being met and help them understand your goals, Remember, any additional sales, upgrades, migrations, etc. that you make to the installed-customer base is less costly than selling to a new customer.
  2. Hone your value proposition message.  Today’s environment reflects fear and uncertainty.  A company’s value proposition should address these concerns, by merging the differentiated message (faster, easier to use, longer lasting, etc.) to creative financial offerings that enhance or increase the ROI… in a few words that are clear, memorable and always visible.
  3. Enhance your value by offering more at the same price. This is not a recommendation to cut prices, but rather a recommendation to augment the product/service offering with more value.  Free shipping, free installation, lower cost training, extended warranties, no-cost upgrades, etc. can be tied to the basic value proposition to make a more compelling story.  Each of these tactical moves can be limited by time, or tied to volume, so that when the economy picks up they once again become chargeable items.
  4. Understand your demographics.  If you have had success in a specific vertical, geography or segment, continue to push each and every part of that area.  Having success in the education market doesn’t automatically mean that you will be successful in Financial Services.  You might find it easier in a growing economy but trying to convince buyers in today’s economy is difficult…especially when competition is protecting their turf.
  5. Increase your visibility.  Traditional ways of communicating your message/value proposition are changing.  The reach of print media is down, fewer people are attending trade shows and seminars, direct mail, both snail and email, appears to be less effective, traveling road shows aren’t getting the audiences they have in the past, etc.    Increasing your visibility in this environment requires the pragmatic integration of applicable social networking tools to an expanded program.

In a recent talk at the Wharton School, UPS’ CEO Scott Davis was reported as saying:

‘The current shaky economic environment is a challenge for all leaders, Davis acknowledged. He detailed three types of corporate responses to the economic downturn. "Some companies won't make it. Some will be crippled; it may take five, six or seven years for them to get back to the level they were at before the collapse." The third type of company, however, will keep its long-term goals in sight. It will pursue strategic growth in line with its core values. These companies will effectively balance conventional and digital business, strive for efficiency and think globally. Consequently, Davis said, these companies will learn, adjust and evolve as the global economy recovers. "Some companies will come out of the recovery stronger than ever. Times of great uncertainty are also times of great opportunity." ‘

I asked the following a year ago;  “As the CMO, can you spell out the new plans and programs you are going to implement after Labor Day?” To this I should add Scott Davis' words….These companies will effectively balance conventional and digital business, strive for efficiency and think globally. Is this what you are doing?


RHM  8/27/2010

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