Ten Ways You Can Adapt in a Challenging Economy

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Here are some ideas on adjustments you can make to keep business up in a down economy. And they work in an up economy as well.

1. Focus on Relationship
Build stronger relationships with your customers. Find ways to help them. Tap into the social networks like Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. Remember that business is like tennis—if you serve well, you will usually win.

2. Target Market
Has your ideal client changed? Maybe it’s time to shift your focus to another target market or aim at a smaller segment of your current target market. Which ones want what you can deliver?

3. Benefits vs. Features
Are you truly communicating your benefits? Oftentimes, what we think is a benefit is really a feature. And people don’t buy features. You have to interpret a feature for them into a benefit. “It’s small” is a feature. “It fits in your glove compartment for easy access” is a benefit.

4. Re-examine Your Top Marketing Strategies
What worked ten years ago may not work well now—maybe not at all. List your top ten strategies and give them a good hard look. How are they working? How do you measure their efficacy? What might work better?

5. Watch the Expenses
What expenditures are no longer giving you the pay-off they once did? In any business there are always expenses that continue but rarely, if ever, get examined for their usefulness. Look for automatic recurring charges you can eliminate. Think like someone who buys your business. One of the first things a new owner does is look for ways to cut costs and improve the bottom line.

6. What Are People Buying?
Right now with unemployment in the U.S. nearly 10%, some market segments are seeing sales increase. Netflix movie rentals are up over 20%. Low-ticket indulgence sales are on the rise. Health care doesn’t seem to be affected by the downturn much at all. What does this mean for YOUR business? How could that change what you sell—or how you sell it? Think about the shifting priorities of your customers and shift yours where you can.

7. Update Your SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Review the one you have or create one now. Get some help from staff or stakeholders on this. My wife and I just updated ours, and we came up with several assets that I had never listed before. Create strategies and projects that will help you exploit your assets and opportunities and minimize or combat your weaknesses and threats.

9. More/Less ~ Start/Stop
A great way to dig deep into your strategic and operational methodologies is to list what you would like to see more of and stop doing what doesn’t work. Then you can also brainstorm what you would like to start doing and what you would like to stop doing. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It is. And it can be very insightful.

10. Stay Positive
Being positive doesn’t mean to ignore challenges and difficulties. It just means not to dwell on them and focus on what you want. It’s never a good idea to bury your head in the sand. I like to practice the Stockdale Paradox: maintain the belief we will prevail while brutally confronting what challenges we face.

So be aware of your challenges, but never give a lot of energy to them. Instead, pivot from this awareness to what you want to have happen. Stay focused on where you want to go, not on where you are.

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