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Are you reinventing yourself in the changing face of business?

Dennis Wengert

Most of us look forward to unwelcome change in our lives with the same level of enthusiasm we feel when anticipating a visit to the dentist. For business owners, the alternative to embracing timely change in the face of shifting business conditions may well be described as a lost opportunity to make the necessary changes that will allow a business to survive and possibly prosper.

Because consumer tastes and preferences shift with the winds of economic and social change, business owners need to continually adapt and refine the value proposition offered by their company’s products and services. This process of reinventing yourself is a vital part of business survival in challenging economic times. The “hesitation cost” of not revamping a company value proposition is often not only a lack of sales, but the elimination of future strategic options that might have been available from a more stable revenue stream.

A company’s value proposition describes how the company will attract consumers and convince them to make a purchase. Features such as price, shape, color, packaging, quality, store location, the buying experience and many other factors, including product benefits, make up a value proposition. As consumer tastes and preferences shift, the business value proposition must also shift to reflect the new and current profile of consumer needs.

Unfortunately, many small business owners fail to make the adjustments necessary to reposition or reinvent their business to reflect changing consumer needs. Merely cutting costs, reducing inventory or making other internal cost adjustments are mostly invisible to the consumer, and do not address consumer hot buttons in two key areas: Why they should buy something, and why that purchase should be made from your business.

If your company’s revamped value proposition is not effectively communicated to consumers, these two questions will go unanswered by potential customers, and sales will not occur.

There are three key questions to address when looking at where your company’s value proposition stands in relation to your consumer base:

A. What is the single most valuable thing our company offers that makes it unique and how can we best position that attribute in today’s economic environment?

B. What simple and direct message can we create that best communicates our unique attribute to consumers?

C. How do we weave this message into all the marketing, outreach and promotion efforts the company employs?

Keep in mind the message must be a reflection of a real company attribute or initiative that will resonate with today’s consumers. The message must also be consistent across all advertising, marketing and promotion, including any printed literature the company distributes. Finally, look for ways to leverage technology and social marketing to keep the value proposition message in front of consumers on a 24/7 basis.

Coping with changing business conditions can be both challenging and rewarding as business owners discover new ways to effectively reposition their products and services for a constantly shifting marketplace.

Consumers are continually’reinventing their wants and needs for products and services.

Companies that reinvent themselves to match consumer preferences have the best chance for survival in tough economic times.

Dennis Wengert is Nevada district deputy director of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Contact him at dennis.wengert@sba.gov.


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