No More Dead Weight

A “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is part of society. Role models abound: the rich and famous, the wildly successful, leaders, athletes. That morning look in the mirror reminds us we’re more than a stone’s throw from reaching that level of distinction.

For too long, I settled for the status quo. Extra middle-age pounds are a part of growing older. Sit back, no need to run. Leave it to others.

Then it hit me. I’d advise companies to constantly assess every aspect of their businesses. “Settling” into old age spells doom for business. Successful companies scrutinize the competitive arena and marketplace. No time to be tired or “overweight.” Wins go to companies in shape.

I championed the virtues of organizational fitness while my own lifestyle and weight were anything but lean and powerful. Something had to change. No one would do it for me. Result: Over six months, I lost nearly 55 pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life. Progress was slow at times, and my resolve was tested. Determined to succeed, I left my comfort zone and embraced change.

The economy has established new dynamics for businesses, management, and marketers. Never before has there been a greater need for new thinking. Living in the comfort zone of old habits means you and your company will find yourselves in a revenue and bottom-line freefall. If you’re waiting for someone else in your organization to rewrite the rules, you’ll be disappointed. If you live in a state of denial and believe old patterns will return to validate your desire to stay the course, your company will fail.

Earlier this month, The Business Roundtable, an association representing the 150 largest U.S. corporations, revealed many of its influential members harbor dim economic expectations for 2003. Nearly 60 percent of CEOs surveyed expect a drop in their company’s employment levels, and over 80 percent don’t plan to increase capital spending. With an intense focus on company resources, marketers are challenged to create business processes and revenue opportunities that meet sales and profit goals within tight budgets. “Do more with less” is the mantra for the new year.

If you haven’t looked in the mirror lately, it’s high time. It’s going to take a lot of miles on the Lifecycle before you see improvement. Some days you’ll question your path. Stay focused and determined. Don’t listen to friends and competitors who chide you for changing what “isn’t broken.” You need to constantly tinker, try new exercises, new methods, new roles, and new people. Surround yourself with others who believe the future holds great promise.

There’s a global communications paradigm shift. E-communications is not today’s buzzword or fad. The Internet is a permanent fixture on the business landscape. From a consumer-acceptance and budget standpoint, its impact on other media is profound. If you believe your present and future customers won’t utilize the Internet as a primary communications conduit with your company, get a new mirror.

Audit every communication for your customer acquisition and retention efforts. Study your customers. Understand their needs and follow them through their relationship with your company. Are there better and more efficient ways to deliver the information they need, when they need it? Are you committed to offer more ways for customers to do business with you online? Have you taken a hard look at your CRM solution and measured its real return on investment (ROI)?

Your organization’s vitality depends on you taking the needed actions today. We can lament the loss of the dreamy economic state of recent years. We’ve all done our share of growing up in recent months. Unemployment lines are brimming with qualified people, there due to flawed or noncompetitive business models. If we’re waiting for cuts in interest rates or the U.S. Federal Reserve to reverse business misfortunes, we may wait a very long time.

Email communications can provide your company with an opportunity to optimize customer relationships in a more cost-effective, efficient way so you can fully take advantage of the Internet’s power. If the C-level decision makers at your company haven’t implemented a strategic imperative to leverage this emerging platform, stop reading this and camp outside their offices. Lobby at the water cooler, stalk them on the golf course, and demand they wake up.

In a new world economy, the couch-potato company is threatened with extinction. Get going!

Until next time,

Al D.

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