This post follows on from the three factors selected in Part 1 of this article to consider for growing your business in hard times. Those points highlighted the importance of strategic marketing, considering which products or services you sell into which markets, the need to significantly differentiate your offerings against the competition, and the use of market research to ensure you get everything right surrounding your product for your target sectors.

The final four points are more about human interfacing side of the business – internal and external, and about adaptation:

  •  Always be prepared to adapt to change. Just because engrained ways of doing business worked successfully in the past doesn’t mean they’ll work in the future. Communications marketing has changed like this in the way it utilises technology-enabled social media compared with the traditional marketing channels.
  • Quality and customer service excellence as one issue is an area that the business community in general has room to improve on – some organisations more than others. Don’t forget that it’s an important differentiator when looking to stand out from the competition. Getting it right doesn’t come overnight and it should be part of an ongoing “continuous improvement” programme in the business.

I buy new car tyres online from a UK company because the prices are competitive, they’ve never got it wrong, deliver in three days or less, and keep me informed during the entire buying process. Due to their service focus, in the last five years they’ve expanded from selling in the UK and Ireland to all across Europe.

  •  For almost all business organisations, the way that we market our wares has changed. It’s changed so much that for most businesses, to avoid embracing modern marketing communications methods – meaning social media and “content marketing” – is both at your peril and missing key selling opportunities.

It’s not the intention to talk about digital marketing strategy here, but there’s enough expertise available in the form of books, online information, marketing institutes, and consultants to start doing a lot with little outlay.

  •  The old adage that your employees are your greatest asset is remarkably true. Looking after your teams tends to give a good payback.

Here are two suggestions: Firstly, run a consistent programme of training so that employees can keep pushing out their boundaries and maybe take on board new activities. In vibrant economies, one percent or more of turnover spent on training might be considered reasonable.

In harder times, even a portion of this spent in the right areas should provide a benefit. One way is to integrate the training with a HR-led Performance Development Review (PDR) programme.

Secondly, employees are motivated by knowing what’s going on in the business. Regretfully not all managers follow this practice so keep your staff regularly informed of both what’s happened recently and what’s planned for the next few months.

All these points suggested are proven to make a positive difference to real growth in harder times.

Stuart Allcock

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