When the economy looks like it does below, both consumers and company managers take much more care with their buying decisions. They buy less, they spend less, and they buy less often.
When the economy is strong, companies and consumers spend more easily. We know this. They don’t put off buying, they just buy. They finish buying one thing and move on to the next. There is a natural momentum and flow to the marketplace. Not only are people searching more often for what they want – when they find it, they are more likely to buy it.
This momentum creates a baseline cash flow for companies, which serves as a buffer. Company managers can make mistakes and keep going. They can experiment with different marketing approaches and not run out of money as they do so. They can sell in spite of any misguided efforts, because the customer is so ready and willing to make a purchase.
When the economy is weak, the baseline disappears. Companies can’t afford those mistakes. All of their efforts have to pay off.
Companies are made up of people. People do smart things and stupid things. Many of the stupid things are bad habits that they were able to get away with when times were good.
So if you want to succeed in our bad economy, you have to make sure that you – and your people – are not indulging in those bad habits. You can’t afford them anymore.
There are many bad habits, of course, but in my mind, the worst of them all is ACTION AVOIDANCE.
How many times during the day do you think, I should be doing such and such? and you end up doing something else? Be aware of this for a day, and note how many times this happens. Realize that if you changed that one thing about your life, your “regret” factor would go down, and your “success” factor would go way up.
It doesn’t matter why you don’t do what you are supposed to do; you can leave that for the psychobabbleists. Endless analysis only serves as an additional distraction from changing the habit. All that matters is that you stop doing it.
Everyone avoids different kinds of things; a brilliant but shy entrepreneur who will do anything to avoid interacting directly with customers. A CEO may avoid firing someone, even though the good, solid employees have all come to the CEO separately to beg him to fire the person. A marketer will investigate and try every new shiny object, without ever once interviewing a real customer. A salesperson will fail to learn enough about her product or service to be able to answer very specific customer questions.
Most of us avoid doing the “big, deep” things and instead spend more time on the “smaller, light” things, like email. Of course, the longer you put off the big things, the more unmanageable they get – and it is also less likely that you will do a stellar job on that big thing when you finally attempt it.
Two things matter in business: knowing, personally, what your customers want – and then giving it to them.
Knowing personally what they want comes only from in-depth, conducted-properly interviews, as I teach in Roadmap to Revenue.
Giving it to them means producing what they want, delivering it when they want, and how they want. Meeting their expectations, in other words. It is all about taking action. If you don’t meet their expectations, someone else will.
Ask yourself, constantly, throughout the day: What should I be doing now? What can I do, to put these other things aside (remember the “distraction pad“), and start taking action on the important issues? What have others told me that I tend to do or avoid? How can I stop doing that – TODAY – and start doing the right thing?