Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results

Change You Can Believe In – Is It Time to Reinvent Your Company?

Are you ready for 2009? Was 2008 your best year ever? If so, you are probably on track to having a terrific 2009. You can stop reading now, because your time is better spent implementing your growth strategy.

Still reading? Then you must want 2009 to be your best year ever! It can be, even with the reduction in consumer spending, increased costs, and an economic recession. All you have to do is…CHANGE.

The promise of change motivated voters to move Barack Obama from a junior senator position to the highest office in our country. It was a message that moved people from all walks of life. Change is necessary for growth, but it is hard to do and even harder to sell.

So, why did Obama’s change message work? There is a high level of dissatisfaction and fear in America. The World Trade Center collapse left us feeling vulnerable to outside threats. The economic rollercoaster combined with executive predators, shows that we are also vulnerable to insider issues.

The same folks embracing change in America are your customers and prospects. They don’t want business as usual. They want great service, reasonable prices, and genuine appreciation.

Watch out for diminishing returns

Insanity has been defined as “doing the same thing and expecting different results.” If this is true (and I swear that it is), most companies could double as asylums because their marketing teams create “new” plans by changing a few items in last year’s plan and expect a better return.

Formulamatic business strategies always lose their effectiveness over time. Look at email marketing as an example. It was a blast when I sent my first email campaign for a direct marketing client. The offer was usual: 20% off the total order for one day only. The email was simple with a text only format and two paragraphs. The results were amazing.

Instant gratification at your fingertips

We had two computers set up to watch the process. One sent the email using Outlook and Excel. The other monitored the website. It took about 30 minutes for all of the emails to process. Five minutes into the operation, we started to see orders coming in. Talk about instant gratification!

When everything was complete, the response was greater than the control (a post card mailing), the cost was substantially less, and life was good.

Things have changed.

The same message sent the same way would have less response today. Why? Because the newness factor is gone. Your customers and prospects receive hundreds of emails a day. Most of the ones from your competition are offering sales, so it becomes a battle of “How low can you go?” Even if you win, you lose.

And, don’t forget the ease to access. Anyone with a computer, Internet service, and 10 minutes can send a promotional email. And, they do. My inbox is bombarded daily with sale emails from a bevy of retailers. I receive emails telling me about their current sales. They are followed with emails warning that the sales are almost over. Next comes the ones to remind me that it is the last day to save. Two days later, the new sale begins.

The formula is: Promote sale >>> Remind customer of time line >>> Warn that Last Day is here >>> Blame the economy for poor results >>> Repeat

How to get started…

If you want to get ahead of the crowd, start with a blank sheet of paper and list 10 things that would help your customers. The first item on your list should be knowledge. It doesn’t matter what you sell, your customers need information about how to improve ____________ — you fill in the blank. Don’t confuse this with “How our product(s) improve your life” information. For example, if you are in the home improvement business, create emails like this:

How to improve the curb appeal of your home

How to reduce heating costs

How to improve the security of your property

When and how to reseed your lawn

You get the picture. The focus is on helping your customers. The secondary objective is to encourage your customers to buy their landscaping, insulation, and lighting products from you.

Change is hard.

It takes more time and effort than maintaining the status quo, but the rewards are worth it. Your first reward is an improved open rate. People open emails that offer valuable information. The next reward is a long tail. People save emails with information they can use. Then, there is the increase in sales, brand awareness, and loyalty.

But, wait! There’s more!

Convert the how-to information in your emails into articles on your website and you win the bonus round: improved natural search rankings!

Don’t believe it until you try it for yourself. Before your next email blast, create a sale email and an informational one. Using a standard A/B split, test them against each other. Your answers will be in the results. Once you take baby steps with change, move on to bigger things. Do your product offerings match your customers’ current needs? Are your services aligned with expectations? Change is good. Start now and make 2009 your best year ever!

Debra Ellis is a writer, speaker, consultant and the founder of Wilson & Ellis Consulting. She has extensive experience as a multichannel company consultant and executive. She uses her experience and expertise to teach executives how to integrate departments, motivate employees, maximize return on investment, and successfully grow their business. She recently completed an e-book entitled “The New Rules of Multichannel Marketing”.

Wilson & Ellis Consulting ( http://www.wilsonellisconsulting.com) is a multichannel management consultancy specializing in transforming information into growth and profitability. In addition to strategic planning and consulting services, they offer hands on workshops and informational guides.

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