Coming back from an enforced hiatus with my business I was musing about whether this was an opportunity or a setback. While there wasn’t much I could do about it at the time, worrying about it would have made things worse. Worry is never recommended. Most business owners have enough to worry about, without fretting about things over which they have no control. Going offline with one’s business can create additional problems — loss of mind share and market share as well, lag in keeping up with the competition, and an inability to figure out where to pick things back up. But sometimes an absence from the marketplace is a good thing. It can force you to become more innovative as you attempt to make up any lost ground. It may also give you a chance to recharge your batteries, so to speak. The caterpillar has to go into a cocoon in order to become a butterfly. Perhaps businesses need a time out now and then to morph into something more wonderful.
I recently came across this blurb by one of the executives who was involved in the release of New Coke on April 23, 1985. Sergio Zyman says that “he knew New Coke was going to be a disaster almost from the day of its launch”. In a summary of the fiasco at snopes.com the thinking seems to be that this was a genuine mistake on the part of Coca-Cola executives. There are no analyses that I could find where the risky decision to implement New Coke was put under a microscope from a business perspective, but Coca-Cola’s own description of the event shows that they were surprised by consumer reaction. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, my marketing mind says the whole thing was brilliant. They couldn’t lose! And in fact, they didn’t. Classic Coke was reintroduced and came back stronger than ever, subsequently leading to immense growth in the Coca-Cola company.
When I ask small business owners about their customers, I often get long pauses and even blank stares. Many business owners are so focused on their products or services that they forget to pay attention to their customer numbers. One of my first tasks is to shift that focus onto the customer. Without customers, there IS no business. Therefore, it is critical to every business to know precisely how they get and keep customers. There are three key metrics every business owner needs to know about those customers: Customer acquisition cost Conversion rate of prospects to customers Lifetime value of the customer