Now Is NOT The Time To Sacrifice Your Brand

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The roller coaster that is our economy is hard to ignore  not that the mainstream media will let us. And while the news is unsettling, unless you’ve invested a fortune in subprime mortgages or ignored sound financial principles… you probably haven’t seen much of the hype play out in your own life. Of course bad news gets ratings and attention… fear compels. I just wish the anchors weren’t so… gleeful as they report the latest numbers at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00.
What should encourage us all as we try not to let the mainstream media get us down is that there are some very smart, discriminating people who see a dark financial climate as full of opportunity. We’ve mentioned Warren Buffett in an earlier post as an example of someone who isn’t panicked by a downturn. Now Ed Roach of Small Business Branding has a timely piece on standing up to the temptation of cutting things that make the difference for your brand during the lean times.
It’s hard… cutting costs is your first reaction, and a natural one.
But those business owners who resist the urge, can make huge strides in positioning their brand. Staying true to your brand values ultimately benefits your business, showing customers (and potential ones) what your product or service is really all about. It takes nerve… a basic optimism and belief that things will, in time, get better. No doubt about it, it’s hard to keep your head when everyone else is heading for the hills. But if you can manage to do just that, these lean times could give you the chance to show your customers (and potential ones) what you’re made of.
Acknowledging that things are tighter and reacting swiftly are critical. You may have heard reports that retail giant Wal-Mart, anticipating a tight holiday shopping season, has announced price roll backs on a variety of merchandise. Other retailers are expected to follow suit. L.L. Bean has already started with free shipping offers, though they don’t mention holiday savings just yet. If you’re in a retail based business, these might be some smart strategies for you to consider as well.
You might also investigate offering payment over time opportunities to select clients… an especially good idea for service based businesses. As you know, sometimes lump sums can be hard to come up with in tight times, so customers appreciate you recognizing this fact and offering a solution. The trust and goodwill you build now will be invaluable later on. Of course, you’ll still want to keep a wary eye on accounts so they don’t get too far behind and only offer them to loyal customers who have shown an ability to pay. 
If you do give in to the temptation to cut costs, and therefore get rid of the things that identify your brand… that mark you in the mind of your customers, you’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons. As a disappointment. A sell out. Worse yet, that bad impression will be next to impossible to undo.
Another timely bit of advice comes from a piece that interviews two respected entrepreneurs one a management consultant to small and mid sized businesses, the other who works with business networks that allow access to insurance, loans and capital. Despite reports to the contrary, it is still possible to get business financing. There are some timely tips here.
The timeless words of encouragement we’re heard before also hold true — there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Remember ,that in the lean times, when others hold back, or give in to the temptation to cut corners, those who don’t… who continue to promote themselves stand a better chance of winning customers and building market share that lasts long after the downturn is yesterday’s news.
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