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Alpha Notes

Marketing Hints for Clients of Alpha Associates

Ready... Aim... F---?

We published an issue of Alpha Notes to encourage you to use this economic "downturn" to make needed improvements in your business and be better positioned for success when the economic recovery arrives. Well, don't look now, but we may be seeing the very first signs of recovery on the street.

Before the economists, prognosticators and leading indicator advocates officially announce the US economy recovered, we usually see our own "leading indicators" at street-level. Through our clients, we are now seeing some of those encouraging signs. They are more pronounced in some industries than others, so it is fair to qualify this optimism. Since many of you are waiting for the right time to introduce new initiatives and get back on a growth track, this is a good time to begin to look for early signs of recovery to justify this activity. By examining activities and trends of your customer and prospect base, you may be able to see if some of those signs are beginning to shine through. The following is a brief list of activities and trends we see as encouraging in certain markets.

  • Beginning to Fill Open Positions - these are in productive areas such as sales/customer service and manufacturing production/service delivery.
  • Willingness to Discuss New Products/Services - you will notice this through your customer and prospect contact personnel, if your contact program is up and running
  • Potential Budget Surplus - beginning to receive inquiries based on customers anticipating some budget surplus for this calendar year.
  • Taking Advantage of the Current Low Cost of Money - customer's willingness to buy based on available financing or liberal payment programs.
  • New Initiatives by Customers - starting to put seasonal and other normal initiatives back on-track and discuss product and service needs.
  • Reduced Price Resistance - Sales personnel receiving less pushback on current pricing.
  • Accounts Receivable - Average days outstanding - customers beginning to pay on a more current basis.
  • Increased Market Communications: Both Solicited and Unsolicited - your marketing and sales personnel beginning to sense more of a "buzz" in daily activity.
  • More Traditional Response to Direct Marketing - better response to marketing programs with a return to traditional response quality.

After reviewing your customers and prospects against this brief list, it is probably obvious that in order to apply these to your business, you must actively be probing the marketplace through your departments that sell and/or service your customers. It also requires an active exchange of information between functional areas inside the company. If this exercise is not taking place in your company, we would advise you to begin implementation of this as a first step for getting a feel for current conditions in your markets. By monitoring these "touch-points" you will also get a better feel for required timing for marketing initiatives by product and/or market. Sensitizing your management to these and other related "indicators" that traditionally provide good market feedback will help you sense the pulse of the marketplace.

However you organize this effort, the objective is to gain a timing advantage on your competitors who may be "waiting it out." Many of the industries we service are starting to look forward to better times. We hope the results will be the same for you.