Despite sobering employment data, a number of economists are indicating the great 2008-2009 recession has bottomed out and things are poised to get better.
While we all wait with great anticipation to see how things progress, take this opportunity to adapt your marketing approach so that you are prepared as business conditions change. Here are eight tips to make sure your organization is ready for an improved economy:
1. Continue negotiating better terms and rates with your vendors. Service providers have become accustomed to helping clients do more with less. Don't go back to doing things the same way you did prior to the recession.
2. Help your customers have the best possible customer experience. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction to raise prices and fees to increase margins back to what they were before. You might lose that customer for good.
3. Loosen the purse strings. In case you missed it, the landscape looks markedly different than it did in August of 2008. New opportunities have no doubt arisen. Identify them. Exploit them by investing to reach your redefined targets.
4. Update, update, and update your skills and understanding of the marketplace tools. Yes it's challenging to keep up with the speed of change. But the option of not doing so, because there's too much, puts you on the road to becoming a dinosaur.
5. Offer flexible work hours to your team where possible. You may not be ready to re-institute raises, but acknowledging your staff remains critically important. What might have been off the table previously should be re-examined. Flexible work hours and telecommuting are serious topics worth discussing.
6. Bring in ideas and speakers from outside your organization. Fresh ideas and a new perspective might just be the catalyst for you and your staff's renewed enthusiasm.
7. Give everyone a little breathing room. Everyone's been hunkered down since the onset of the recession. Your business could probably use a dash of fun and stress relief.
8. Keep looking through that long lens. Congratulations—you've been holding strong through some pretty tough times. Keep in mind, however, that the way things are today will be very different from how they'll be three years from now.
Just three years ago, for instance, Facebook was almost unknown and there was no Twitter. On the other hand, a number of established entities back then no longer exist today. Always ask yourself what will be different 12 months from today.
Note the absence of tried-and-true advice like "Hire people better than yourself," "Stick to your budget," and "Continue to have team meetings." Those types of things should be ongoing and should already be a part of your arsenal.
Mark Kolier is president of the direct and digital marketing agency CGSM.