Friday, May 29, 2009

Recession: The Age of Change -Acknowledge and succeed!

We all have a reason good reason to panic during those though times. Even if we started year 2009 with encouraging news, the balloon just blew in our face with the recent drop in real estate market, but STOP. As dramatic as it is, a recession is simply a revolution. You may choose to go with the flow and choose to succeed, or be up against a tsunami. Those situations aren't new for mankind, just think about the fall of Rome. It's a time of profound changes and the first step is acknowledgement, so you can find ways to make it work for you.

While a recession can mean death for a resistant to change type of management, it is probably the greatest news for an entrepreneurial mind since the bid is open, and the old conventions are no longer.

According to Thomas Nagle, partner in the Cambridge, Mass., office of Monitor Group. in a recent article published in AdAge's CMO Strategy column "Times like these, when margins are down and the cost of raising new capital is high, are relatively unfavorable to new investments. Even fast-payback investments in trade shows or new ad campaigns look less promising when customers are buying less and expecting lower prices anyway. Still, some companies do mitigate sales declines with innovative marketing, often putting themselves in a stronger position for recovery as well. The key is to make the most out of capabilities the company already has to generate incremental revenue.

What makes recessions such good times to leverage existing advantages is that cash-strapped, or at least saving-motivated, customers are open to making changes they would not have made before. Millions of previously loyal Starbucks drinkers are now willing to forgo a custom-made beverage for a good-quality, standardized substitute at a lower price. Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's are using that newfound price sensitivity to offer cut-price lattes and cappuccinos, at what are probably very good margins for those chains. And the customers they attract may also discover that the bagels at Dunkin' and the salads at McDonald's are an equally good value.

The key to success is to be open to some inside-out marketing. Look at what you're already capable of doing, probably in excess because of the recession, and figure out how that capacity could enable you to offer a new service or enter a new segment quickly, with relatively minimal investment. At least you can generate incremental contribution during the recession, and at best you may capture some new customers for future growth."

Remember your customers are more open than ever to change; it's just a matter of being creative. Brand what makes you different and don't be afraid of revisit your business model and products offering. Opportunities are out there for creative minds... Remember how Steve Jobs saved a dying music industry from pirates with his iTune store.

David Morin B.V.A
Principal/Brand Artist

Branding isn't just about eye candies -4 low costs actions to strenghten your brand during slow season

One of the most accurate definition of branding I can remember doesn't come from branding legends such as David Ogilvy or Leo Burnett but from Howard Schultz, from Starbuck: "...Branding is the sum of the actions taken by a company". You may be asking yourself: "How the heck is that gonna help me increase my sales during slow season?" Well, in an article published in MarketingProfs, Kimberly Smith says: "When the slow season strikes... it's time to put some energy into pumping up your brand."

She lists 4 actions to help you make the most of your dowtimes. As Howard suggests, branding goes above and beyond simple eye candies. Branding is much more about the companies culture in every facets of its daily operations to create an experience, while the visual aspect of it is just its graphic embodiement. In other words, the sum of your actions eventually shape the perceived value of your product, service or company, turning ordinary into extraordinary. As Marty Neumeier says in his book "The Branding Gap", "A brand isn't about what you say it is, it's about what they say it is".
The strategies suggested by Kimberly revolves around strenghthening the connection with your current customers. Since we all remember the old saying "It's far more expensive to attract more customer than keeping an old happy one". Not only that but Seth Godin also suggest that " old customer is far more likely to bring you new people via word of mouth than someone who isn't even a customer yet."

Kimberly highlights the achievements of one company that boosted sales by 12 percent and decreased client shrinkage by 75 percent with a program that included:
• Meeting one-on-one with clients with the sole purpose of discovering their needs and concerns.
• Making the executive team's contact information available to all clients.
• Producing competitive audits that detailed how clients might better engage their target markets.
• Incorporating thoughtful gestures into all client-facing activities.

Branding isn't just about eye candies. In downtimes as Kinberly says "It's time to catch up on all the little housekeeping, brand building tasks that have been put off due to time constraints. In addition to positioning yourself for future success, you'll likely find that exercises like these can help to keep yourself, and your staff, both busy and optimistic."

David Morin B.V.A.
Principal/Brand Artist