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Posted: September 13, 2012

Six ways to build company value in a down economy

First -- set audacious goals

Christopher J. Ryan

While the political battle rages over whose fault it is that the economy seems to be perpetually stuck in the doldrums, entrepreneurs and established businesses alike are faced with the task of keeping their businesses moving in a forward direction. Working with dozens of companies has taught us valuable lessons on how to accomplish this.  The macroeconomy is what it is, and most of us have little impact on this. But we do have a great deal of control over our microeconomy – that small slice of the whole where we can make an immediate difference for our companies, our clients and our families. 

By “building company value” I mean that your founders, shareholders, employees, partners and customers all receive what is most important to them in terms of:

  • Growing revenues and profits
  • Increasing stock prices
  • Pride of associating with a winning company
  • Job satisfaction and promotion opportunities

So how do you go about increasing company value at a time when economic circumstances are tough and there’s fierce competition for every dollar?  Here are six suggestions on how to use marketing and sales strategies to build value in your company:

Set Audacious Goals – We encourage our clients to think big and aim for large objectives. Setting lofty goals forces you to think outside the box, and this is important because it is difficult to make big gains with the same mindset you used to achieve only modest gains. It’s the simple but powerful realization that you’re not bound today to what you thought was possible yesterday. Plus, simply by aiming high, you give yourself a better chance of accelerating progress. Here are some examples of audacious goals for your consideration:

  1. Double the sales team’s quota
  2. Triple the number of inbound sales leads
  3. Cut the cost of new customer acquisition by 50 percent
  4. Increase your web traffic by 250 percent
  5. Two or more of the above

Differentiate – Most successful companies are highly differentiated. They have a value proposition and brand promise that is both unique and compelling. This allows such companies to charge premium fees and operate in a less competitive environment. Competition is a major drag on pricing, so the idea is to offer a specialized product or service offering, not a commodity. In other words, be different and charge more or be the same and charge less. 

Challenge your sales model – This strategy can be a game changer. You should take a close look at your sales model and ask some tough questions:

  1. Is my cost of sales higher than it needs to be?
  2. Can I create a two- or three-tier model to add additional revenue?
  3. Can I add a recurring revenue model to my existing sales strategy?
  4. Should I replace all or part of my direct sales model with a channel strategy?
  5. Are there low-cost ways of reaching a larger audience?
  6. Is my pricing strategy leaving revenue on the table?  

Work your leads hard – Research shows that 75 percent of companies either neglect lead management altogether or do a poor job at this discipline. The remaining 25 percent of the companies have a great advantage because they will close more deals faster, in a consistent and predictable manner. To put it another way, by practicing effective lead management, the profitability of your company will increase along with return on your marketing investment.

Practice pull marketing – The basic premise of pull marketing (also known as inbound marketing) is to find where your prospects congregate, make your information available to them in educational and entertaining ways, and give them incentives to come to you when they have a need for what you offer. Unlike the monologue of push marketing, pull marketing creates a dialogue between you and the prospect. As you decide how much of your time and financial resources to devote to push vs. pull marketing, keep in mind that the battleground has shifted. As the marketer, you are not really in charge—the prospect holds the high ground. Rather than fight this fact, it is better to accept who has the real control and find the best ways to help people buy in the way they want to buy, instead of the way you want to sell to them. This is an easier and more cost-effective way to conduct business.

Optimize your website – At Fusion Marketing Partners we have the opportunity to review lots of web sites, and the majority of these sites need a major overhaul. If you are in a business that depends on visitors to your website (like most industries), you need to do everything you can to make sure your website is optimized to accomplish three things. First, you need to generate awareness and educate visitors. Second, you need to convert as many of these visitors as possible into opt-in contacts. Third, you need to nurture these prospects until they become customers. There are very specific ways to achieve all three of these objectives. Put simply, a substandard website will cost your company a great deal of money.  

Naturally, much of this is easier said than done. But the ability to stop from time to time and take a hard look at the ways you can improve your business is one of the things that separates thriving businesses from those that operate beneath their potential. This potential extends beyond mere market share: it is the ability to inspire everyone around you — your clients, your leadership team, your investors and employees — with a realizable vision of prosperity and personal fulfillment. That’s truly powerful. These six strategies deserve some serious thought if you want to unlock that power.

Christopher Ryan is one of the nation's foremost experts in B2B marketing and sales. Author of How to Create an Unstoppable Marketing and Sales Machine (Fusion Marketing Press, 2009), Mr. Ryan is founder and President of Fusion Marketing Partners (www.fusionmarketingpartners.com). Chris Ryan was formerly a senior marketing executive at noted companies like Stellent, Inc., FrontRange Solutions, PeopleSoft, Sybase, and Group 1 Software. Mr. Ryan's latest book can be obtained at Amazon.com or at http://fusionmarketingpartners.com/get-the-book/.

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Readers Respond

I think your point on "be different and charge more or be the same and charge less." pretty much distills a majority of what I learned in business school down to a single thought. If only we spent more time getting at the heart of these matters rather than choke potential employees to death with buzzwords, we would be much better off. Well said! By Jacob on 2012 09 13
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