Rhubarb Fool offers some top commercial tips for 2014 Part II
Make sure that you are still in touch with your customers
Slavish adherence to the 'customer is always right' mantra can be counter-productive. Life is seldom so clear cut and polarity has a tendency to isolate. However, stating that 'the customer knows what they want' is little more than an undeniable fact. Ignore this at your peril.
Awareness and understanding of your customers' aspirations and desires are essential to any business. It's equally true that having a good understanding of who your customers are and what they appreciate will support your efforts to grow your business in the right way.
So flexibility and the ability to adapt to change in your market places will allow you to keep up with the circles that your customers move in. So make life easy for your customers. This needn't be rocket science. Do what you're meant to do, when you're meant to do it. Make sure you're accessible, available and convenient. If you can't give your customer what they want, when they want it; then your competitors will be rubbing their hands with glee.
Increasing your expenditure may not seem the most attractive of proposals at this point of the financial year. But widening the choices that your business offer your customers could, within a relatively short time scale, generate new streams of income that will make that initial expenditure far more palatable.
Inviting feedback from your customers can represent a swift and effective exercise. But the more difficult exercise of taking on board and actioning this feedback can inspire confidence and loyalty in your brand. 'You asked, we did it' surely offers a compelling and powerful message to your customers.
Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer
The analogy may seem a touch extreme, but you have to keep an eye on your competition. So maybe shift your frames of reference. Look at your competitors as a source of inspiration, rather than a nuisance or a threat.
Research the activities and objectives of your competitors. Think about what has and has not worked for them. And there's always value in stepping out of your comfort zone. So don't just research the competitors in your immediate market place. Study competitors that are operating overseas.
You could even benefit from looking outwards from your own commercial sector. And there's no reason to confine this activity to January. Make it a regular commercial exercise. You'll only benefit from keeping up to date with what others in your industry (and indeed other industries) are getting up to.
Want to read Part III?