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Re-Invent and Re-Package Your Business to Grow, Now!
How has your business continued? Do you have a new customer interaction website, new product brochures, inspired and unapologetic talent, a technologically updated plant or a professionally designed interior and merchandising store? If I were to do an analysis of your business, would I clearly identify a strong brand that represents your organization?
Today’s competitive small business market can be local, regional, national or even global. Being a business owner or even a team leader still has many challenges. Everything from the mobile phone to marketing techniques has advanced exponentially two to three times in the last several years due to one innovation or another. And in terms of competition, the branding and marketing of all products and services continues to transition being reinvented or repackaged to grow or even just to maintain market share.
To address these issues I have used and benefited from the following action points in my previous businesses and with clients to get people and products up and running.
1. What is your “Brand”?: If your organization’s brand is unclear or needs to be changed, this is a great use of the retreat indicated below. Whatever the “brand” is… the fastest service, largest inventory, best price, or hopefully something more exciting, the “brand” must permeate every pore of the organizations. Every decision and action must be determined by the “brand”. The “brand” is walking the talk and once you go down one path, it can be nearly impossible to reverse direction.
Ex.: Jos. A. Bank clothiers had a defined quality niche. The stores are in good neighborhoods, quality appliances and furniture, good service and their staff is a cut above the mall retail clerk. I looked at them as an alternative to Brooks Bros., having quality clothes, a wide selection, not that expensive, and their corporate program provided a reasonable discount.
Today, I feel like an idiot for the purchases made at the corporate program price. JAB has for almost two years, flooded customers in the mail and on the air waves with half price or 2 for 1 sales offer almost every week. Their brand today; whether they want to admit it or not, “deny it”, “I guarantee it”.
My client, who is a distributor of certain Proctor & Gamble products, is noticing a constant reintroduction of products that have been redesigned or repackaged. And speaking with a McDonald’s restaurant a few months ago, he told me that he is completely remodeling his restaurants, which are 10 years old, with more updated designs and greater efficiency. Unless the product or service was wrong to begin with, you can expect increased sales from the new packaging or redesign. Note that these re-inventions or re-packages are not based on price.
2. Improve the “talent”: First, do whatever it takes to make sure you have the right talent on board in the first place (see my article ‘Hire Slow and Fire Fast’).
Invest in training programs and make them mandatory, but only programs that take work performance to the next level, that promotes your team and leads in the market. It is my experience that professional training will inspire employees and provide ample ROI.
3. Develop “Business Development”: Efforts to boost sales in these times through reduced prices, extra spiff, higher commission or trips to the beach will be short-lived, if at all, and could certainly hurt some future sales programs. And if it doesn’t work, what carrot do you suggest?
A leading research group conducted a survey of more than 15,000 salespeople, within every major industry segment and in various sales roles; to know the main areas that salespeople would focus on the most during this sales cycle. Reflecting on previous results, survey participants located these challenges; generating business, negotiations, closing business, managing relationships and expanding relationships.
Well shock me (I was thinking of Steve Martin), but aren’t those the same challenges during good times, or any time for that matter?
And from that list, the top two hurdles were 1) Account Management: finding more ways to add value, and 2) Growing Relationships: becoming a “trusted advisor”. The survey does not reveal business size, but I observed that many operations ignore their unique strength; the ability to establish relationships and pay for personalization.
Closing the sale is not typically a competition for resources (unless you allow it); it is a contest of priorities. A buyer’s time and money is given to someone, right? So, you have to show more value to win that competition.
4. Do a 4-hour “retreat”: The goal; nail down specific needs of the organization as it relates to increasing net profit through improved sales and greater customer relationships. It is from these two specific areas that everything else must support.
Too often we think that just selling more stuff will cure all our problems. From experience; I don’t care if your annual sales are 2MM, 20MM or 200MM, if net profit is weak, more sales will not fix the problem. First, make it profitable at existing levels, so when sales increases come, the net profit will also increase proportionally.
Hire a professional meeting planner: For a very modest investment your retreat can be an experience, not the usual meeting and not a party, strictly business but enjoyable. No speeches or anything other than what will suit the purpose. You want everyone (or at least that all important 80%) to agree that “we did things”.
I used to send personal invitations to all employees at least 3 weeks in advance that included a program, and I made it optional rather than mandatory. When everyone saw the program, everyone ‘wanted’ to be there. The retreat was held on a Thursday (Saturday is an alternative) morning starting at 8 sharp and ending at exactly noon. The food and drink were ready at 7 in the morning, but nothing was served that could bring on a mid-morning nap (ask a nutritionist). These types of events are often used by the big boys, like IBM, Coke, etc.
Lastly, I have read that there are fewer repeat buyers of car brands today compared to any time in recent history. The result of competing models, international competition, environmental and financial concerns create highly individualistic buyers.
What does your organization do to reinvent or repackage products and services [Brand]and be ready to deliver added value and become the trusted advisor [Talent]so that your past, present and future customers will continue to want you?
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