Friday, November 28, 2008

To Website Or Not

“You should receive a response by email within 24 hours. If you do not receive a response, please try sending your message again and make sure you enter your correct email address”.

Response to an email complaint I sent to my bank. I tried to call them and ran right into the business norm today: layers and layers of number pressing to try and reach the right department and then hope to get a live person.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) has 6 million individual customers. In 2007, the bank had a profit of 3.3 billion dollar. With all that money you think they could get a better IT department (try sending email again!).

How well does your website perform? According to Statistics Canada, more than 8.4 million Canadians aged 16 and over made an online purchase in 2007. 43% of Canadians logged on to do research on products, and 64% reported that they had subsequently made a purchase directly from a store. The most popular items for browsing were consumer electronics, such as cameras and VCRs; housewares, such as large appliances and furniture; and clothing, jewelery and accessories.

Give your website daily care. Have checks and balances in place to immediately respond to any feedback you receive. The competition is fierce to begin with, add a little recession and being good, isn’t good enough.

Tony Mariani

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stay The Course

The bankruptcy numbers for 2009 will be substantial. And the list will include companies that have been around for a long time will be part of that list.

GM, Ford and Chrysler would be on that list if not for a government bailout.

Prepare your self for the next 7 months or so depending on how long this so called recession is going to last.

Here are some strategies to stay true to:

  • Protect the core of your business. Don’t let any opportunity big or small slip in servicing your current customers. It’s cheaper to keep your current customers than to attract new ones.

  • The weak, lazy and lucky hide during tough times. Stay proactive and look for ways to cut expenses that do not hurt service.

  • Marketing noise is down. Competition is advertising less. Stay on course with your advertising. It’s cheaper to grow business in these times.

A McGraw Hill Research report says that businesses that maintained or increased advertising during the 1981-82 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth than those that eliminated or decreased advertising. By 1985 companies that were aggressive recession advertisers grew their revenue 2.5 times faster than those that reduced advertising.

If things are bad now wait until you see how bad things will get if you cut advertising.

Tony Mariani

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thinking Inside The Box

I hate the term "thinking outside the box".

No doubt you will hear it a lot given the economic turmoil. I think its used because the prognosticators don’t have answers and want to re-invent the wheel.

We allow technology and gurus to change the way we do business. Like….

Voice mail. Let’s let our paying customers go through a jungle of press 1, press 2 to speak to a live human being, that is if your lucky to get a live person.

Return policy. Let’s charge our paying customers a fee if they buy something from us and then have to return it. We will call it a re-stocking charge.

How would things look like inside the box?

Answer the phone. Why do you have one?

Need to return something? No problem here is your refund.

I don’t think the way we do business has changed. Its still an exchange of money for goods or services.

We don’t need to think outside the box.

We just have to make sure that the inside of the box represents what people see on the outside of it.

Tony Mariani

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marketing in a Recession

Unless you are a bank or an auto maker, it doesn't look like anyone is going to bail your business out. With a recession at our doorsteps the cry is, "no one is buying"!

So marketing and in particular advertising are the first cuts. Big mistake.

The recession doesn't stop all spending. It just means that most consumers are careful in their spend. Generally 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your customers. Those percentages will likely shift to more profits from less customers. But even if they don't, you can't afford to lose share with the profitable group.

Stay the course or increase marketing efforts with the best customers so you don't lose them. Build goodwill with good customers during lean times. It goes a long way when times improve.

While your competitors sulk and complain about the economy and wait for for business to return to normal, cash in on what your competition is giving you-None!

Tony Mariani