Things CEO’s can do in these economic times
BLOG: What are you thinking?
I am kicking off the year with my new blog targeted to leaders who are accountable for leading growth and change in an enterprise and seek a business narrative for leaders. We all know 2008 was a year to forget in terms of the economy and growth for many organizations. We all suspect tough times are still ahead. So what do should leaders be thinking about in terms of the elements of a successful brand story to prepare for 2009?
1. PRICE MATTERS
Airlift believes the quality of an experience for the price and time a customer pays is value. But in this economy, price matters the most. Be sensitive to the media scare on our recession and give your customers reasons to continue to buy your brand with innovative pricing platforms. The right price gives customers permission to say ‘yes’ more often. This will keep them in your brand franchise during the tough times so your brand can be heralded as “being there” when the chips are down.
2. NEVER COMPROMISE ON THINGS RELATED TO CHILDREN
The youth of the world are our future. Insure your product quality remains intact especially if you are looking to reduced operating costs. The safety and well being of children is not negotiable. It is that simple.
3. IT IS THE YEAR OF THE MIDDLE CLASS. THEY MATTER MOST
Most marketers prefer to market “sexy” products; products for the uber rich. Make no mistake about it, the next 5 years; market to the middle class with relevant, solution oriented product is sexy. Doing sop will become the “it” idea. The rich are uber rich and the poor are destitute in America. Let’s not forget it is the Middle Class who built this great country, one brick at a time. Our FEX EXPRESS drivers, UPS drivers, mail routers and grocery clerks help us every day. Who helps them with the right products and services at prices they can afford? Far too few. Michael Silverstein told us it was a “Trading up” economy. I contend it is not about Trading at all. Give customers what they want, can afford and deserve; right price, right place, right products. It is never out of vogue.
4. DEPLOY THE RIGHT RESOURCES TO GET THE JOB DONE
A senior job title does not always mean you have the right person to lead in tough times. Process people may not like the chaos of change. Conversely,creative people feel stifled by process. Assign both leaders to help plan for any change efforts during tough economic times. Their skills will compliment each other and make for a great team and well thought out solutions.
5. BEGIN PLANNING FOR ABUNDANCE POST 2009
History repeats itself and Americans will not be fans of a down economy for too long. Start investing in your 2010 pipeline of products today so when the economy turns around, and it will, you are ready with new news, new products and services. Select a small team of bright people who are non-linear thinkers and care about the future. Hold them accountable to develop customer-relevant business building ideas now. Do not skimp budget on what can be long term, future payout.
6. SAY “NO” TO “YES” PEOPLE
Your people are your greatest asset. In this economy, the ones that just say “yes” to you all the time are a detriment to your growth. You need honesty in this economy. You want to create a culture where people can express ideas freely without repercussion. Host some coffees with people in the messy middle of your organization. I guarantee there will be some good ideas, no bosses allowed. Get unplugged with your people and let them know you want to hear great ideas to grow the firm and make it an “employer of choice”. Reward the good ideas by implementing them. This is a low to no cost way to get the organization talking and moving in the right direction with your growth message.
7. YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS CAN ONLY BUY SO MUCH
The hardest thing to do is to reach new customers. But in this economy your current customers can only buy so much from (frequency). While leads know building brand loyalty is the most profitable way to do business, be mindful of the customers and their pocketbooks. Avoid brand wear-out. Reaching new customers with your current offering can be done with a new voice, a new look or even advertising in places you have never been. Create a new story for an old brand and you will be sure to get new users.
8. LESS IS MORE
2009 should be the year of great efficiency in your operation. Based on your plan ask your direct reports, “What can we stop doing?” Take work out. Revise old systems and reports you no longer read or need. Work to the right of your decimal point on budgets. You will be amazed what you can do with out. The net results: It all goes to the bottom line.
During times of change, leaders are often so buys working on new plans, they forget to communicate to the troops about the plan. Lack of communication leads to doubt. Doubt leads to a lack of confidence. The best solution is to devise a “Chat with the Chairman” a short letter, an internal blog, or e-mail about the goings on can include data on your industry, the state of the company and the role of the employees during these changing times. Stick to your plan and inform your greatest brand ambassadors about your progress good and bad. Did I say, “Communicate?”
10. CRAFT A BRAND STORY TO ACHIEVE YOUR DESTINY
In turbulent times, people want to be inspired. People follow leaders who stir their soul and inspire new ideas. Craft your business narrative in an inspiring way. This is sure to motivate your people and build their confidence in your company, plan and products.
Have a great start to 2009
From the Blog Desk of Airlift Ideas Story Telling
Corporate Brand Story Teller
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