Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ways to recession-proof your business: Tip #2

Here is another tip to help small businesses do well in this economy.

Tip #2: Focus on your customer.

This might sound obvious, but are you doing it?

What would make your customer's life better, easier, nicer, more joyful, or less stressful?

How might you change your offerings or policies to make this happen?

The owners of Clarity Soap and Candles in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego offer free gift wrapping. Any time. For any size purchase. They do this by spending their money on baskets and ribbon and silk flowers instead of print advertising, and let word of mouth do the rest. I know that I can come in, pick out wonderful handmade candles or soaps or bath oils, and they will create something like this for my friend or co-worker.

As Reinier Evers writes in trendwatching, consumers are now part of the "Expectation Economy," looking for ever more. While I'm not advocating bending over backwards for difficult customers, take a look at how you run your business. Are you set up for your convenience, or for theirs?

This might mean shifting your hours, offering delivery or drop-off service, offering a personal shopping service, adding a member's lane at admission, or simply adding some chairs if people have to wait.

Takeaway tip: With all the competition out there, show your customers you care about them! You can start by asking them what they'd like that you don't currently offer.

Here's a recap of all six tips:

Tip #1: Don't skimp on the visible parts of your business.

Tip #2: Focus on your customer.

Tip #3: Reward for referrals.

Tip #4: Re-package offerings into smaller chunks, without discounting.

Tip #5: Communicate your passion in an authentic way.

Tip #6: Offer a small thank-you.

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