The conventional response to today’s lackluster economy is to focus on cutting business costs and to improve profits. That’s good advice up to a point, but eventually paring down becomes counter-productive. Once you’re done, you’re still stalled in the same economic doldrums.
Rather than restricting your strategy to cost-cutting, try playing to your strengths. What product, service, or other customer benefit do you offer that goes beyond the norm? Think about ways to build upon and expand that benefit, and then communicate it to current and prospective customers.
If nothing you offer is out of the ordinary, improve your services or offer a new service that nobody else provides.
What makes you stand out? Look at your firm through your customers’ eyes. Why do they do business with you instead of your competitors? Is it the exceptional quality of your products or services, lower prices, peripheral services (such as delivery), your helpful and knowledgeable staff, a convenient location, or some combination of these reasons? Even if you think you already know the answer, double check with your customers. Ask what they like about doing business with you and what additional features or changes would enhance the relationship.
Play to your strengths. Once you’ve identified your customers’ wishes and preferences, focus on your strengths. Discontinue products or services that are indistinguishable from everyone else’s or that generate more problems than profits. Instead, emphasize or expand your existing areas of excellence. Promote activities that enhance productivity and/or reduce bureaucracy.