The Need To Adapt

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Those words were written by Eric Hoffer in 1951. But they are just as relevant now. Our local economy is in crisis. The market has changed. Two types of companies will definitely make it to the other side: Businesses with vast cash reserves; and businesses that find a way to make sales.

Understandably, the most common response to the crisis has been to cut costs, resulting in a disastrous effect on the local economy. “Collaboration” is on the verge of becoming a buzzword. But behind that concept, there is the harsh reality that the days of major companies promising suppliers that they would be treated as “partners” have gone. Even companies with those vast cash reserves have felt the need to enter survival mode. Loyalty to faithful suppliers is hard to find as businesses focus on the short term. But there are success stories in the current environment: companies who are growing despite the slow down. In the main, these businesses got the basics of their marketing right: good products, attractive prices, and proactive promotion. We are seeing businesses emerge from lower down the supply chain and become valuable to companies at the top who can no longer afford the luxury of a middle man. Extravagant mark-ups to have someone facilitate a simple transaction within the Oil and Gas industry, are now seen as wasted money.

Too many businesses became reliant on passive positioning. And not just in the oil and gas sector. Many successful businesses in the North East ignored the concept that demand is flexible and did not make an effort to maximize their revenues. Even in good times, you sell more if you passionately promote your business rather than be satisfied with the healthy flow you are getting.

The healthy flow of demand in a vibrant market that rewarded passive positioning meant that the tried and tested methods of identifying leads, building relationships and pursuing sales targets fell into disuse. For many, registration on FPAL, and the expectation that buyers would find you, became the sum of the marketing effort. So it is not surprising that some now see revenue growth in difficult times as nigh on impossible. But of course, it’s not… There are opportunities out there, either by targeting new markets (where that is feasible), diversifying, or simply making an effort to reach out to new clients. Some businesses have never or rarely attempted to engage with other potential clients. Some businesses don’t know where to start. For those making that effort, some are succeeding and will come through the current challenge in a better position than their competitors.

So, before pushing the self destruct button, and diminishing capacity further, you might want to ask: what if? What if we could market effectively? What if we could sell more? Standing still isn’t an option; as Hoffer identified, in times of change you have to adapt and do what it takes. And if you don’t know how to market your business and produce sales – find someone to teach you or do it for you.