Wednesday, April 29, 2009

6 Business Secrets for a Bad Economy

By Tom Marquardt

1. Your Business is Always Open

No matter what the posted hours are for your business, operate as if you’re never closed. Think of it this way, when your doors are shut, do your customers stop spending their money? The traditional hours of Monday through Friday, nine to five, are a very antiquated way of thinking. This is a global economy that’s always “on, open, or alive,” 24/7/52. When you’re sleeping, someone halfway around the world is working. Your business should have a 24/7/52 mentality.

2. Pennies Really Do Add Up

Many businesses make the mistake of looking at the big financial picture and forgetting the small components. Focus your attention on each penny within the business. Surely there is a penny to save here and a penny to save there. Just look around, and when you’re done, over time, that penny will multiply to thousands of dollars a year that can bring down the bottom line. A penny really does add up!

3. Appearance Becomes Perception

Perception is everything and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In today’s society, people make judgments quickly and labels stick. Take a look at all areas of your business, even the ones customers never see. What’s your first impression? Is everything clean and orderly? Would you like to spend time there? If things don’t look good, make them better and if they’re good, make them great. Remember, you also set the tone for employees in the way you keep behind-the-scenes areas. Their attitude about the business and working environment is conveyed to customers in their interactions.

4. Know What the Joneses Are Doing

Do you know what your competitors are doing right now? Know as much about your competition as you know about your own product -- from a customer’s perspective. The only way to prevent the competition from taking your business is to have a better product and market it more effectively. You should know your strengths and weaknesses compared to theirs, and what success and failures they’re enduring. Know the marketplace, the forecast, and how your product compares to the competition. Learn about the “Joneses” today, or one of those “Joneses” may buy or send you out of business tomorrow.

5. Find What Makes You Different

What is it about your product that stands out? Why should someone do business with you rather than someone else? From concrete visual differences to perceived value and price, sit down and make a list of what truly makes your business different from the competition, then focus your marketing efforts to exploit those differences. Marketing to your differences sets you apart in the mind of the consumers and creates a unique identity in a tight marketplace.

6. Reward Current Customers

Attracting new customers takes more money than retaining current ones. It just makes sense to make sure your customers come back. A great way to do that is to implement a customer loyalty program or a reward club. Hotels have been doing it for years and it has driven an amazing amount of brand loyalty. What does your business do for repeat orders from long-standing customers? Do you know who your top twenty clients are? Another great reason to install some sort of repeat customer loyalty program and reward club is that it allows you to capture valuable database information from your clients.

About the Author: For a free weekly ezine with valuable tips for your small and mid-size business go to Tom Marquardt, The Profit Repairman®, gives hands-on, ready to implement strategies to increase the bottom line, change flat revenue growth, and save your company's fate.


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