8. January 2010 10:57
I was asked by an editor to give some thought to what makes for good marketing and business in the face of another year of hardship in the building and construction industry. So below are my 5 Tell-Tale Signs of what, in my humble opinion and my experience of two severe industry recessions, mark out the winners from the losers.
You can also read our 'Seven Day Plan' (top tips for a week's worth of things companies can do to improve their marketing and communications) in today's TTJ magazine - see page 22.
What would you add to this list? Please do drop me a comment below.
1. Winners invest in relationships
… and they invest in the people who forge these relationships. They listen closely to the sales team and front line staff, and are passionate about little things that make a big difference. They find time for real conversations.
2. Winners wear their customers’ socks
They keep looking outwards, eyes firmly on the horizon. They actually know more about their customers’ businesses than they know about their competitors (never the other way around). They prioritise market research and market intelligence, have a powerful contacts database or CRM system, and they could make spookily well-informed guesses about the issues that will be discussed at their customers’ next Board meetings. They sell solutions, not materials with a mark-up.
3. Winners don’t let the stress show
In recessions, customers need a lot of reassurance. Winners always stay true to their corporate values and keep communicating. They remain easy to do business with. They are seen to treat people well. They pay on time. They bring their best suppliers much closer to the business so that people are more willing to go that extra mile for them. Word soon gets out that this is a confident company that you want on your side in rocky times.
4. Winners keep their heads above the parapet
A big part of building confidence is about maintaining visibility – particularly through cost-effective tools like PR, awards, networking events, online communications and social media. They don’t spend loads but are highly targeted and focused and they integrate all these marketing activities very tightly together so they squeeze out every ounce of value.
5. Winners just get on with it
Recessions don’t last forever – this time next year the market will be entirely different, and to be honest the most successful clients we are working with today have been vigorously lobbying, meeting journalists, manoeuvring into position and shaping that market since last January. They are much more likely to say “we never waste a good crisis” than “let’s put that on hold until we see what happens after the election”.