We all experience change and in today’s fast paced world it’s coming at us at even faster rate. We can make it our ally and embrace it; or we can hope it goes away and suffer the consequences. (Just think of the demise of photographic giant, Kodak – they ignored the move to digital photography and ended up filing for bankruptcy!)
So how do you harness the power of change in your business, using it to timeously spot new gaps in your market place, capitalise on them and put more cash in the bank?
At least once a year sit down with your key customers and find out what they think of your product and what you could do better. Pitch it as a PR exercise – you are there to improve upon the service you provide. Ask them what their newest challenges are – the feedback may inspire you to improve your existing product or to launch a new one.
If you have a number of customers, consider using an online research tool like Survey Monkey www.surveymonkey.com It allows you to design a questionnaire, including open and multiple choice questions, and then email the questionnaire link. It also provides individual and summary analysis of the results and the first 100 responses are free.
I’ve experienced the benefits of this type of temperature check first-hand, when I undertook this exercise for a large architectural company, whose sales were declining. A key outcome of the dipstick research was that neither their clients nor prospects viewed them as good relationship builders. The solution: to introduce a relationship building campaign comprising regular (but unobtrusive) contact with their target market. It did the trick in turning around their sales!
Subscribe to an industry newsletter and when it arrives in your e-mail box make a point of taking 5 minutes to scan the content.
Make sure you are aware of global industry trends – find an international guru whom you can follow.
In the Marketing sphere, I subscribe to Jay Baer’s articles. His prediction is that by 2020 customer experience will be more important than price when selecting a supplier. Jay’s recommendation is that as a business owner you focus on asking customers the question, “How can I help?” rather than on Marketing hype.
Keep yourself up to date via the media and your industry colleagues and associations, on any environmental factors such as the economy, social, technological or legal trends that could impact your business. Knowing about these upfront will allow you to plan for their impact, be it positive or negative.
Develop a history of your sales to that you can track the trends and act on them. If you’re not recording your monthly sales, start doing so now. Measure the impact of any Marketing you do, so you know what works and activities that are not to be repeated.
Really effective Marketing strategies, which can transform your business, emanate from a good understanding of both factors in and outside your business. This is how you embrace change and capitalise on it.
I’m in agreement with Socrates, who said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not in fighting the old, but on building the new.”