Friday, February 13, 2009

Ready for the Recovery?

Good news! Congress has finally agreed on an outrageously expensive economic stimulus package (on top of the $800 billion of our money they have already thrown down the banking rabbit hole).

This is a sure sign that the recession is almost over and the recovery is on the way. Why? Historically, Congress has only acted after a crisis has passed. That way our political "leaders" are assured that they won't be held accountable for their actions.

So, even though credit is still tight and many companies continue to struggle, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And, if you are smart, you'll start right now to prepare your business for the better days ahead. Here are four steps to take now to position your company for the recovery:

1. Branding - Branding is not just for corporate giants anymore. If the recession has taught consumers anything it is the need to be more selective in how they spend their money. Your company had better be on the list of "good" suppliers who deliver quality and value, even before the need for your products or services arises.

2. Accessibility - I am still amazed at how many businesses make it difficult for customers to find them or get in contact. You should work to lower every hurdle between your customers and your company. If you can possibly sell on-line or take orders through your web site, do it. Pony up for that toll-free telephone number. Make sure everybody has your e-mail address and respond to questions within 24 hours.

3. Manage Your Leads - When you do get a phone call, e-mail or web inquiry, make sure you have a system in place to respond. A sales lead had a very short lifespan. Immediate acknowledgment is a must, followed up with consistent communication. It is also essential to have an internal accountability system so that leads do not fall through the cracks. Opportunities to make sales are too precious to let slide.

4. Reexamine Your Marketing - Are you still spending a ton of money in the Yellow Pages? Is your local newspaper eating up the bulk of your advertising budget? Have you ignored web-based advertising because you simply do not understand it? Conduct a full audit of how you are marketing your business and be prepared to make drastic changes. Don't continue to do something just because "we've always done that." Figure out how your customers are getting their information and make sure you are there.

The recovery is coming. It is never too soon to get ready and put yourself in a position to emerge from the recession as a stronger, more marketing-driven company. Get started today.

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