How to Survive a Recession
Someone asked me last week, "What are the best ways to survive a recession?" Without thinking much, I responded, “Love the customers you got!" As I began to reflect on my knee-jerk answer, I realized just how important it is for B-to-B catalogers to do just that.
B-to-B marketers, unlike their B-to-C counterparts, have many customers who provide them large sums of revenue each year. The range in average order values, average annual spend values and lifetime values by site is usually great.
When you think about it, it stands to reason since B-to-B marketers sell to various sized customers (businesses). If you sell office supplies, for example, a buying site with 2,000 employees generally buys much more than a site with 20 employees. In fact, with most B-to-B catalog companies you generally find that 20 percent to 30 percent of the customer sites account for 80 percent of the sales. So in tough times, it's much easier to get a few more dollars in sales from 20 percent of your customers than the other 80 percent.
Love the customers you already have. Arm your outbound telesales staff now with new products, offers, services and other reasons to call your best customers.
Do the Right Things
Another conversation I had last week was with representatives of a company that wanted my counsel on their catalog's creative. They asked how they could improve it to get more sales. They thought the creative issues through and had a good plan to improve performance. After an initial conversation about the makeover, however, I began to understand that the company had many other larger, more immediate opportunities before it.
After all, changing your catalog's creative is a minor piece of your overall success that's hard to measure. And, has a longer-term payback. You need immediate return and easy measurements. Generally, you look for significant and definitive positive impacts, not “minor adjustments."
Developing new outbound sales programs is a good example of a project that could have significant and immediate benefits. The point is, don’t just do things right; make sure you do the right things. List all of the possible things you could or should do to improve your business, factoring in the cost, time to implement, risk and other key variables associated with each. Then prioritize to make sure you do the right things first.
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Terence Jukes is president of Ability Commerce, a 140-person firm that designs, builds and runs e-commerce and related marketing programs for catalog companies. He can be reached at TerryJ@AbilityCommerce.com.