Thoughts on These Economic Times

This might not be the greatest economy you’ve ever experiences, but not all is dark and desultory. Besides, it’s the only economy we’ve got, so we might as well become adept at doing business in it. Here are some suggestions and observations for your marketing consideration.

Go where the money resides.
There are organizations and industries and segments that are doing quite well. (I’ve never seen either liquor or pet care decline much in even the worst economies.) Silicon Valley has been hard hit post-dotcom bust in northern California, but construction seems to be doing well there. Information technology is in the doldrums and over saturated in many areas, but there is dramatic growth in counter-terrorism, security, bio-technology, and other areas. Above all, find organizations that are doing well and which have a history or reaching outside for help. These two criteria alone are sufficient to define your highest priority prospects, despite their market niche or size.

Be opportunistic locally.
It is by far least expensive and time consuming to research market local firms. There may be an organization which would not normally by on your prospect list in terms of its profile but which makes eminent sense to pursue because it’s in your backyard and can use your talents. Read the local newspaper’s business section and network at local events to learn more. Even a small business can often afford a $25,000 project, and that fee can pay your bills for a while.

Ignore the non-profits only at your own risk.
Non-profits, charities, and even some governmental agencies have budgets, sometimes quite healthy ones. I’ve worked with scores of non-profits, so I know that they constitute a viable market for even those consultants who have specialized in the private sector. Select some attractive targets of opportunity, do your homework, and contact the executive director. This is a multi-billion dollar aspect of our economy.

Create dramatic and innovative approaches to the buyer.
One of the members of my mentoring program, for example, has taken her young child with her to various branches of a large restaurant chain, and then also visited the competition. She has returned food, asked for special orders, times waiting periods, assessed rest rooms, and so forth. She then finds the vice president of store or franchise operations, provides some basic comparisons of the outlets, and asks if he or she would like to meet with her to understand the strengths and weaknesses in more detail. Shopping your prospect’s business to obtain compelling information to attract a buyer is unadulterated brilliant, and innovative, marketing.

Learn to make an effective cold-call.
Many of us are spoiled by success with referrals and repeat business. In tougher times, calling on people who have never heard of you becomes a significant competency. Read up on the subject (I can provide a bibliography on the topic if you email me with the request: alan@summitconsulting.com) and practice a scripted approach to enhance your success.

Maintain a steady communication with everyone you know.
Using email, regular mail, fax, phone, newsletters, etc., keep your name in front of everyone you can think of, and also keep your value in front of them. Many people whom you think know what you do actually do not, or regard you solely within a narrow niche. Keep people apprised of your work and your value by providing them with some value on each contact. Remember, this is not a numbers game in that you don’t need a large volume of responses, but only a few which lead to significant business.

Diversify as much as possible.
Finally, consider avenues and approaches you haven’t traditionally utilized. Recently, I accepted some work as an expert witness on an ethics case, simply by responding to an inquiry from an attorney and convincing him that I was the best resource for his needs. You’re capable of more than you probably acknowledge, and this is actually the best of times to be assertively expanding your breadth of offerings.