Just flip on the news. We're bombarded daily with reports of major banks and businesses reorganizing and filing for Chapter 11. The new administration unfurls a continuous repertory of stimulus bills, TARP and mortgage restructuring plans. Not only is the road ahead changing, so is the very map, the landscape it's embedded in. We're in a brave new world and we're not done yet.
The Chinese symbol for crisis also signifies opportunity, a fact oft-quoted in recent days. Change means new possibilities, new doors opening. Those that are alert will see them and act. This is the power of positive thinking. By seeing the glass half full, you focus on developing opportunities that lead the way to growth and success.
As always, the strongest will prevail. But strongest doesn't mean biggest. It means most adaptable, intelligent, forward-thinking. As sign-posts along the way, some Prime Directives to keep in mind:
• Lean and Mean
Now is the time to clear out the cobwebs. Liquidate languid inventory. With gold over $1000 an ounce, it's time to cash in on any scrap. Some retailers are enjoying a healthy new sideline of buying customer scrap and estate jewelry, which may be offered as a customer service.
Evaluate your sales staff. Who's performing and who's not? We have to be compassionate, especially in trying times. But consider added incentives for exceptional merit, even offering profit-sharing, a "piece of the pie" for outstanding performance. Have a brain-storming session. Listen to your staff. With fresh eyes, you may get some great creative suggestions.
Re-contact your loyal customer base. They are worth gold. Culture your top clients, reminding them of birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. Reward them with special incentives or "by invitation only" events including private Trunk Shows.
• Re-Think Strategy
Take into account changing customer attitudes as well as new governmental tax policies and incentives. Conspicuous consumption is out. People are loathe to be seen flaunting extravagant wealth in a time of need. But there is always an appreciation for enduring quality and lasting value. Gold and diamonds may project a stability at least as great as fluctuating currencies and stock portfolios! Jewelry, precious metals and gems are as old as humankind. Presenting them as a wise investment of enduring value fits in with the current calls of a return to common sense and pragmatism.
Promoting small businesses, stimulating the economy and creating jobs are national buzzwords. Counteract customer reticence by promoting awareness that buying is a win-win situation. By stimulating the economy, it resets the cycle from stagnation to growth. It helps our economy. It's good for all of us.
• New Opportunities
Buy American. It's a hot selling point. Promote products Made in America, even highlighting local and regional designers and artists. It's easy for customers to see clearly how this helps the economy.
Link In. Are you taking full advantage of the hottest new trends? Blogs, enewsletters, and networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to promote your brand as well as keep in touch with your expanding client base in a cost-effective manner. It's the wave of the future.
Give Back. Charities are enjoying a surge in popularity, a sign of the times. "Gift bags" full of expensive goodies to Hollywood celebrities at major events are being replaced by requests for their donations to favorite organizations. Consider designer pieces promoting a portion of the proceeds donated to non-profits. Medallions with positive messages such as "hope", "dream" and "believe" will strike a chord. We're all in this together, and hope is our future.