Finding opportunities in hard times

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You may recall my post ‘The Death of Gen Y’ back in May when I talked about the coming IT crash. In that post I also suggested attributes of companies that would survive during the tough times. And I think those points still stand. But let’s consider an additional area…

First, let’s find an opportunity and analyse it. Take the following Gartner report for example.

Last week Gartner released a report looking at the uptake of online communities. In it they estimated that by 2010 more than 60% of Fortune 1000 companies with a web site will connect to or host some form of online community (here’s the link)**.

As a web company, or online community ‘vendor’ you might think this is good news. And a good opportunity for sales.

But that would be to miss the main point of the article. Read through it carefully and you’ll find the real opportunity in paragraph 3:

“However, establishing an online community isn’t without challenges. Gartner predicts that by 2010, more than 50 percent of companies that have established an online community will fail to establish mutual purpose, ultimately eroding customer and company values.”

No, the real opportunity is working out how to ensure an online community is successful. The technology behind the site (eg your fab product) is probably irrelevant.

Results are king

The companies that will survive – and in deed flourish – over the coming months and year(s) will be those that can guarantee results. Features, and even benefits, will be largely worthless in an environment of cost cutting and wary spending. Results will be king.

So, consider carefully how you position yourself, your company and your products and services.

ROI

Return On Investment (ROI) is one of those terms that gets thrown around in marketing material. It’s often unsubstantiated and meaningless.

But for the company that can simply & clearly explain their ROI offering, and guarantee it, there’s plenty of opportunity.

Take advertising as a simple example. It’s no revelation that advertising spend will be the first thing that gets slashed in many companies. Why? Because much of it is un-measurable. So, the advertising budget will be constrained to areas where the return (eg it might be measured in conversions) is directly measureable and pays for itself (ie there’s a guaranteed ROI). Thus moving from: ‘providing a range of advertising processes’ to: ‘guaranteeing a pre-determined result metric via advertising’.

Take a company’s web presence as another example. There’s going to be very few companies simply wanting to ‘boost their web presence’. Instead, companies will want a proper return, whether that’s measured in traffic, unique visitors, new members, qualified leads, product downloads, whatever. Anyone can provide a web site, but how many can ensure a result? Thus move from: ‘providing a web site’ to: ‘ensuring a web based result’.

Common sense

Of course, this must just seem like common sense. But take a minute to consider most companies around (I spent some time analysing a few over the weekend) and you’ll be surprised at how many are still peddling features, instead of results.

Ask yourself this: what result does your company/product/service guarantee? If you can’t think of one, then it’s time to take action.

Be excited

There’s plenty to be excited about in the short term. Tough times clear away the mediocre and leave the excellent free to dominate. Now might be time to check your company is in the latter category.

 

(**We’ll leave aside for now the fact that much of the report was prepared before the crash, and thus would need to be re-evaluated in light of recent events.)

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About Craig

I'm the co-host of HubShots and the CEO of XEN - helping mid-large B2B companies with their digital marketing and lead generation.

Craig Bailey

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