As we appear to be coming out of the worst of the downturn, as highlighted by the .25% increase in the prime rate day before yesterday, it would be a mistake to think that the good times are back without trying to learn from the pain of the last 18 months.

    Across my little group of clients, a number of things are clear:

  1. Cash is king, and will remain so for some time. If you have it, great opportunities will arise, if you do not have it, life is very difficult indeed.
  2. Customers buy on price unless there is a compelling, relevant, and engaging value story attached to your product. Where that story exists, price is not an issue. The middle ground appears to have been significantly eroded, never was branding so important, and at the other end of the spectrum, without a brand, you need to be the lowest cost supplier to survive, and there is always someone who is about to supplant you as the lowest cost supplier.
  3. It is uncertain how the government stimulus package will impact over the coming months. Confidence appears to be pretty fragile,  and looming are the political difficulties inherent in pulling back on announced initiatives, alongside the difficulties of a ballooning deficit. Do not rely on the public stimulus as anything more than a transient, one-off cash generator.
  4. Information moves at the speed of the mouse, and is totally insensitive to your situation. Spin is easily recognised for what it is, and attracts the cynical response we all think it deserves, and good news or bad, your opportunity to manage it is greatly reduced, so you better be under-promising & over-delivering, or you will find yourself left on the shelf.
  5. Creativity and innovation were never more important, being like everyone else is a recipe for a slow commercial suffocation.
  6. Focus on fewer things, and make sure they are strategically the key items.  Focus makes everything you need to do easier to execute, but it is very hard to stop being attracted by the siren song of expediency. Resist the temptation, remembering the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.