I am a semi-retired reluctant to hang up my spikes audio/video old-timer.
As a gray-hair, I have ridden many economic up and downs since the 1970s.
Whoa! Do you feel that disturbance in the force?
It’s signaling yet another economic slip-and-slide recession.
And it will continue until at least 2026.
Others may disagree with my timeline.
But it’s clear; we’re on a slide.
It’s the same old song
The reappearance in the media of “how to survive a recession” stories supports my view.
I’m convinced they recycled the stories from dusty 1970s media file cabinets.
By and large, they prescribe “tighten your overhead belt and increase gross profit.”
Yeah, right, that’s easy to say.
But is that all they’ve got?
Well, consider my 2¢ before it inflates to a 5¢.
Note – Although I have directed this blog at audio & video professionals, much of this discussion can apply to all small businesses.
There are 4 options
#1 Eliminate non-essential expenses until your net profit rises above break-even.
#2 Increase gross profit until your net is above break-even.
#3 This is a tough choice. Reduce staff until your net is above break-even.
#4 Employ any combination of the above.
I prefer the 2nd option with a painstaking application of the 1st.
Again this is easy to say, difficult to do.
So, where do we begin?
As my favorite marketing professor, Dr. Buskirk, repeatedly declared, “Begin with your customer.”
Your targeted customer is a male homeowner, music and or movie, plus audio and or video enthusiast with an annual household income of ≥ $100K who buys better/best audio/video systems.
He is your strategic and tactical compass heading.
Relax! I am not excluding most of humanity.
I’m allocating limited resources to our time-tested targeted customer.
We welcome all who can benefit from our services.
• Increase or at a minimum maintain gross profit.
• Trim expenses.
• Focus on those who will endure and may even prevail in an economic slip-and-slide.
Our targeted customer fulfills this strategic aim.
Best of all, he wants and can afford our product/services.
This strategy banks on implementing the tactical 4Ps of Marketing.
4Ps of Marketing
Product, Price, Place, Promote
Offer products that fulfill your customers’ wants with better/best performance and features.
Spotlight high-profit margin brands your customer trusts and recognizes as better/best products.
Trim low-profit brands from your selection where feasible.
The Lead Product
You are the lead product.
Continually review, and improve your installation skills, audio/video knowledge, and salesmanship.
Ultimately your customer chooses and pays for you.
Here’s a short list of websites that can assist.
I’m always looking for more sources. Please send me your recommendations.
• Ed’s AV Handbook — my introduction to AV basics, how to sell audio, and more.
• Paul McGown — answers audio questions on YouTube.
• AV Room Service — Norm Varney explains acoustics.
• AVPro Edge & DPL Labs — tackle HDMI issues.
• CEPro — best industry news source.
• The Loudspeaker Cookbook — this classic book delves into speaker design.
• Michael Fremer — bonafide HiFi music lover & vinyl guru on YouTube.
Do not succumb to steep discounting.
Your customer expects to pay premium prices for better/best products, services, and installation.
But he still expects pricing that is competitive with other premium competitors.
‘Place’ includes where your customers reside – trade area.
‘Place’ also includes where your trading takes place – trading area.
This thought may seem obvious.
Does your trade area include a viable number of targeted customers? If not, move.
Can your customer find you?
Can he easily find you at your location?
Or can he easily trade with you by phone, email, website, or a personal home visit? If not, make a change.
And when he does, what will he see or hear – storefront, staff, commercial vehicle?
What will be his first impression – a clean and professional image?
Promote is often incorrectly referred to as marketing.
Marketing defines the whole enchilada: the customer, their want, business strategy, and the tactical 4Ps
Promote is a subhead of marketing — the 4th P.
Promote includes personal sales, advertising, events, and point-of-purchase materials.
A handshake is your most effective promotional tool.
Personal selling involves expert qualifying, listening to your customer,
then offering recommendations based on your expertise.
Review and improve your sales skills.
If needed, select this Link to my Handbook Chapter 9.
I think of it as “batting practice.”
Advertising includes websites, social media, email, direct mail, radio & TV, print media, and publicity.
If you don’t have a website, create one.
If you do have a site, review your layout.
Keep the site simple.
Customers seek easy-to-use qualified information.
Set up a website for ≤ $20/month.
Linkedin, & Facebook/Instagram are currently the leading social media platforms for business.
Each offers a profile page that can be used like a basic website home page.
Linkedin, Facebook, and Facebook’s Instagram are free!
Linkedin is a business-focused platform. Use it to create free posts, free articles, and paid advertising.
Facebook promotes creating a profile page, plus a home website-type page and offers paid advertising.
Instagram is a visual-oriented site that supports posting photos, and videos, and also offers paid advertising.
Your customers are your best source to mine future sales.
Create an email list.
Engage in an online email marketing platform. Many are free.
Junk email ads have replaced junk direct mail.
Direct “snail mail” effectiveness has improved due to less junk mail in our mailbox.
Radio & Television
Radio and TV are options for larger promotional budgets.
They can offer the least cost per person reached.
But this increases when limited to your customer target demographic.
Metropolitan newspaper-magazine-billboard advertising is on the wane and expensive.
However, small-market newspapers and billboards may still offer an affordable effective option.
Publicity is free. Media editors are constantly seeking content to fill their pages and airtime.
If you can offer content that fulfills their needs, they may accept it.
Events are fun, personal, and effective. This includes new product introductions, technology seminars,
and a thank-you-customers party. Cost involves refreshments, displays, posters, and banners.
Advertising the event is free via your email list. Consider direct mail invitations.
Point Of Purchase Materials
POP includes in-store posters, displays, price tags, product literature, your invoice, the storefront,
and the company vehicle. POP should convey quick/clear information.
All promotion should include a concise & repeated statement that emphasizes your competitive edges.
If needed, this link to My Handbook offers more detail — scroll down the page to “The Message.”
• Increase or maintain gross profit
• Eliminate non-essential expenses.
• Focus on the customer target.
• Review/adjust product lines, prices, the trade area, and your trading area.
• Select your promotional options.
• Plan and prepare all promotional choices quarterly/annually.
• Schedule the promotion on your calendar.
• Then don’t think, throw. Execute the plan.
• Review the results and make adjustments.
Continue with what works. Eliminate what does not.
You’re prepared to survive or even prevail in the economic slip-and-slide.
And that’s my gray-haired 2¢.
OUR SPONSOR’S MESSAGE
You Were Robbed
A drywall custom speaker installation highjacked the audio fidelity you bought.
Reclaim the tighter bass, warm vocals, and decibel level you paid for.
Buy the SandTrap.
Only $69.99 ea,
Go to sandtrapaudio.com
The SandTrap Patented Architectural Speaker Tuning System