Tough Times Curve In The Road

When times are tough it is tempting to play a safe game. You might want to reconsider that strategy to win in business.

In tough times, it is tempting to tighten the belt and keep doing what you do.

Our natural inclination is to reduce the bigger risk by taking fewer risks at all; to seemingly play it safe. If you are the sole breadwinner it feels like every business mistake is taking food out of your family’s mouth.

So we get paralyzed with fear.

This is what we are seeing when talking to local business owners as they cut costs and watch cash flow.

We live in an oil and gas town, and when the industry suffers, we all suffer. The trickle down effects are really hitting home, with massive layoffs and spending cuts.

Particularly for smaller players, already tiny marketing budgets are shrinking to zero. People are waiting for something to change or for the government to fix things.

Ironically, some businesses are even more successful during economic slumps. This runs contrary to typical herd thinking.

I am not referring to companies that are preying on the suffering of others.

I am referring to those businesses that figure out how to create value for others, despite the weak economy. Often, tough times are the mother of innovation.

Pivot on Value Creation

We’ve changed direction several times over the past 15 years in business. A few times it was during good times but a lot of times it is when thing are not working due to external market factors.

Recently we looked at what our strengths were and what our clients found valuable. Then we looked at areas where our target market was struggling.

It isn’t a big stretch to realize that most businesses want more clients and revenue.

They’ve also cut their workforce back to the bone and are extremely value conscious.

We’ve been helping clients with marketing strategy and sales processes. So we decided to go deeper into value creation.

We are now offering fully managed, results-focused marketing services for small businesses. Businesses get access to a professional marketing team at a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves. We work together as an extended team to take on that complexity so that business owners can focus on sales and clients.

How can your business pivot into more value creation? Some ideas include:

  • Shift your business focus to play to your strengths and add even more value to clients.
  • Go deeper into the product or service at the high-end.
  • Introduce a new and innovative product or service.
  • Adapt your product or service for a new market.

Position for Now and the Future

In good times, the general rule of thumb is to spend at least 10% of your revenue target on marketing. In a tough market, you need to look at increasing this number.

The companies that invest in increasing market share during tough times tend to grow faster than their competition when times improve.

Just like relationships, the economy and what the government does are out of your direct control.

What you can control is how you respond.

I get that when times are rough, the budget for marketing, sales, and other growth activities is hard to come by for small businesses. We are in the same boat.

I do know that we are not going to wait for a miracle from anyone.

We are going to continue to look at ways of increasing value, innovation, and letting the market know about all that through our marketing.

It is better to tighten our belts today, invest, and ensure we are around tomorrow.

This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

Photo Credits (modified) – Pixabay