Focusing on the BasicsBy Kathleen A. Martin | Print
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While many businesses and solution providers are cutting expenses and resources, Frank Ballatore is investing in his business and getting back to basics. It's a lesson we all should follow.
This is surely a week that will go down in history. And probably not because of what you are thinking. Microsoft reported its first quarterly loss and its first-ever layoffs. Layoffs were announced in record numbers across all sectors and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 300 points for the first time on an Inauguration Day.
With all that is being reported you might be looking around at your company and thinking that now is not the time to be trying new things or spending additional money on growth campaigns. You would be wrong. Now is the right time to increase your marketing programs and it is also the perfect time to review your marketing measurements.
The most common question I am asked by small businesses is: "How do I to find another customer just like my largest one?" I always ask the same question: what are the attributes of that customer that make them your largest customer other than revenue. Unfortunately, many businesses do not know what those attributes are.
Great marketing programs begin with understanding your customer set and developing plans to grow the revenue contribution from your existing customers while adding new customers.
Frank Ballatore, president of The New England Computer Group, shared his plan for driving new business while continuing to develop their current customer base. While many solution providers are looking to maintain their revenue or minimize losses, NECG is looking to double business in the next three years.
"This economy is just temporary. We built our business on relationships and that has offered us very loyal customers. We have seen some projects delayed, but nothing has been cancelled," he said.
Last week, NECG hired a new sales representative to assist in the company’s growth. This representative is in addition to the marketing manager they added last year. "Our marketing manager is great. She has allowed me to focus on the sales while she drives our vendor relationships and programs," Ballatore said.
For solution providers looking to not only weather the recession but grow their business, Ballatore offers these tips:
Staff for the Business You Want: To add the sales and marketing personnel, Ballatore had to take a small pay cut. Consider this an investment back into your business. You cannot mine for incremental revenue while you are working to maintain the revenue you have today.
Focus on Vendor Partnerships: Your vendor partners need you to succeed. Now is the right time to focus on key vendors programs and to take full advantage of all the offerings available. Having a dedicated resource to work with distributors and vendors on program terms, promotions, co-op funds and marketing development funds can be a source of funding to pay for staff resources and new marketing programs.
Customer Service is Job One: It’s an old adage but holds true today—no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Making each customer feel like they are your only customer can be the difference between a delayed project and a cancelled project.
There remains opportunity in this economy for the businesses focused on the basics: customer service, expense discipline and measured marketing. As Ballatore is discovering, strategic investments today will pay likely pay big dividends tomorrow.
Kathleen Martin is special projects coordinator for Channel Insider.