It’s quiet. Chilly. And still kind of dark. Most of the Valley is still asleep. But I’m at Mill Creek Park sipping the last of my wonderful hot coffee and getting ready to run one of the trails around the lake.
I know the next 10 or 12 hours will be full of meetings and calls and clients. But the next 40 minutes are mine.
When I get close to the end of my run, I start to say the Serenity Prayer…out loud. Part of the reason I say it out loud is that I hate to hear myself gasping and wheezing for air.
But it’s also because I know that at least once during the coming day, I’ll be looking into the eyes of a desperate small business person whose business has dropped to half of what it was before the recession.
I need the wisdom to know what I can help them change and what I cannot. And I need the courage to tell them the truth.
NO SILVER BULLETS
The truth is, there are no silver bullets. I can’t give you a slogan that will suddenly have customers lining up at your door. You can’t come up with a special sale that will reverse the economy, and you can’t completely change the products or services you offer.
SOME SILVER LININGS
But this recession has helped some business owners realize that they must get back to the basics, focus on making sure they supply what customers want, and improve communications with their customers.
In fact, many clients tell me that they have a better company now than they did a year ago. Volume may be lower, but customer satisfaction is higher. They’re selling what customers want, and they’ve built a community of loyal followers — not just nameless, faceless customers.
ANSWER THREE KEY QUESTIONS
We’ve helped a lot of firms stay afloat by starting with three key questions: What are you best at? What are you passionate about? And what does the marketplace want and have the money to purchase? Where these answers intersect is where you focus most of your resources.
KEEP CORE VALUES
Your product or service probably still has value, so stick with it. You’re probably best at doing something. So stick with that. Keep the core values of being fair, and passing up a free dollar to earn an honest one. Deliver a quality product or service.
ADAPT MEDIA TO CULTURE
In days past, you could set a media schedule on TV, radio and newspaper and forget about it for the year. Those days are over. You may have to revise your media choices and your schedules every month now — and that may not be a bad thing.
And now you know there are other places to reach customers besides traditional media. We’ve been using social media marketing to help many of our clients build the kind of relationships with customers they’ve always wanted.
STIMULATE THE SYSTEM
If your core values and offering are solid and you’ve adapted your media, then pick up the pace. Do it more often, and make it a habit — a regular habit. Like a morning run in Mill Creek Park, it can make your whole life better.
Stay tuned and stay smart.