Has your business hit tough times? When racking your brain to find a way to get back on track as revenue and profits decline is not enough, it’s time to do overhaul your thinking. The first step is accepting there’s a problem. The next is accepting your current methods are not the solution. It takes courage to admit these but once you know you have to change, the change process itself becomes much easier to handle.
Here are five powerful strategies that will either save you or stop you from hitting the bottom. The more you embrace the faster you’ll see positivity.
Change, Change, Change
Change is happening all the time everywhere. Learn to love it and keep moving. A common phrase in agencies is that you’re only as good as your last job. Every job done needs to be improved on. Every process, product, procedure and policy needs to evolve, all the time. Not only do most business focus purely on an end outcome and ignore lessons learned, they structure themselves to hinder change rather than encourage it. Whether by attitude that this is how it’s always been done or by laziness that if it’s not broke then don’t fix it, your business or parts of your business is preferring to stagnate rather than develop. On every project understanding learnings then using the them to driving and implement improvement is a good place to start.
Direct Change Towards Your Customer
Get strategic. You’ve probably already tried everything else, like price reductions, special offers, cutting costs and reducing budgets. When markets are tough, there is only one strategy and that’s to make your customer your purpose. That means a move away from focusing purely making money towards the needs of your customer. They are not financial, they are emotional. Although you may find it difficult to accept purchasing decisions are always based on instinct or feeling then rationalized afterwards. During tough times the customers hold the power. Spend becomes a more considered and less impulsive. It’s even more emotional as the need to guarantee a satisfactory purchase increases. Put the customer at the centre then as you bring in changes, you can make sure that every improvement, however small, is one that will benefit your customer. Focus on benefiting them and the money will come.
A long-term vision takes you further. So many businesses put all their energy into firefighting the immediate challenges that they lose direction and do an inferior job of the task at hand. It will take some effort to move from tackling the here and now to scheduling projects well in advance. The benefits, however, will turn your business around. Not only will many of the challenges you think are important fade away completely, you and your teams will work be more creative, make better decisions, work less hours and achieve better results. In 2017, Selfridges London, launched its Christmas Shop in July. With a minimum planning period of 12 months, it means working a at least 18 months ahead of the celebration. What’s smart is that Christmas is peak trade for retailer, some brands taking more than 70% of their annual revenue from the seasonal range.
Shake Things Up
Do things differently. Progression is built on newness. Customers want something that’s been developing. It needs to be interesting, engaging, creative and spend-worthy. You don’t need a fully-pledged research department, although a dedicated team will help. Adopt a mentality of asking ‘what’s the next upgrade?’. Companies who focus on innovation roadmaps will stagger developments so that they are always delivering something new and fresh, increasing ROI over time. Always run tests and trials before major roll-outs. Be open minded about what can work. You’ll almost certainly stumble on an unexpected idea that takes popularity and differentiates you from your competition.
Find The Win-Win-Win
When the going gets tough, the tough join forces in partnerships and collaborations. The most successful collaborations offer customers added-value while profiting the brands involved. Not only is a strong brand partnership a great way to tap into a new customers and market, by it’s nature it drives creativity and innovation. The collaboration period doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the resulting benefit. Make sure you consider brands that share mutual values and complementary purpose. Successful big brand partnerships include Nike and Apple; Alexander Wang and H&M; BMW and Mont Blanc; and Cover Girl and Lucas Film.
Cutting costs and reducing price only results in driving customer value down and it’s not what customers actually want. Switching your team to think about developing new ideas, becoming more sensitive to customer needs, working to a long term plan, doing things differently and finding new partnerships will result in a seismic shift that once adopted within your culture, will result in sustainable performance and long term success.