5 Suggestions for Making The Year

It is the end of June, and the year is half over.  The stock market appears to be heading down, unemployment is still high and there is talk of a double-dip recession.  In putting the 2011 plan together in the fall of 2010, the outlook was more optimistic and “aggressive” targets for sales, revenue and profit were set.  Halfway through the year you are behind plan, the pipeline does not support the 3rd and 4th quarter plans, and due to the traditional summer slump, the next big selling month will be September. 

If you are facing this situation, here are three suggestions:

  1.  Increase marketing expenditures and step up advertising and promotion.  In 2008, I researched which companies succeeded during the Great Depression.  I found that those that advertised were much more successful than those that cut back on their marketing expenditures.  Moreover, if your competitors know this, and step up their marketing expenditures and you do not you may get overwhelmed. 
  2. Stress value.  Increase the perceived value of your offerings by adding something; be it free shipping, an extended warranty, additional support, etc.  Make the buyer feel that they are getting more “bang for their buck.”  By doing so you not only differentiate your product/service from the competition, you also make it easier for your inside advocates to speak for you.
  3. Focus on solutions, not features.  Today’s buyer wants help in solving problems.  Identify the customer’s problem and point out to them how your product/service solves that problem, better than any competition.  For example, if a buyer is concerned about ease of installation and security regarding a software package, show him/her how easy yours is to install and secure.  Do not talk about the customer’s ability to design a custom user interface and report writer.
  4. Keep it simple.  Decision makers at all levels will be facing increasingly difficult choices as the year unfolds.  They do not want to wrestle through complicated pricing plans, confusing rebate programs or long-term obligations.  Your message should be, “Our product (which is the best) solves this problem and will cost you this much.”
  5. Use social media, when and where appropriate.  The different social media tools are effective when tailored to fit your individual company’s customers.  There is no universal application that works.  Understand how your customer base likes to talk, and then engage them at that level, which can range from a monthly newsletter to daily interaction on twitter and Facebook.  One suggestion, if your product is the least bit complex, explore the use of video as an adjunct to your pre and post sales customer support. 

Will following these 5 steps ensure that you make the year.  No.  However, focusing on them will help you remain competitive and help maintain your slice of the pie. 

Do you have any additional suggestions that your can pass along?  Comment below.

 

RHM  6/23/2011

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