Thinking Managers

Robert Heller of looks at the ways in which some companies are managing to beat the downturn by adopting innovative marketing strategies.

The way back from the downturn

The great economic disaster continues. However, the same publications that chart the shocks and setbacks of the crisis also produce a mass of fresh evidence to suggest that corporations and individuals are surviving the downturn as the 21st century economy continues to thrive and grow in the unique environment of the Digital Revolution.

‘The Next Net’ is the nickname for a vast, universal system that will track the purchases and movements of consumers to find out where they go and what they buy. Marketing could be revolutionised by the results. The quest for new and extra revenues from existing and new customers has long been essential to business success but primitive tools were used. The highly advanced Next Net, however, promises to sell you ‘intelligence’.

That involves processing vast quantities of data to find out where individuals are most likely to buy and to be. According to Business Week, ‘Mobile data could soon work its way into industries from marketing and finance to media.’ The start-up teams sweating over their algorithms will find that the leaders, most notably Google, are already mining much currency from mapping markets. The search and advertising business dominating Google’s profits is founded on charting the influence and relevance of billions of web sites. This is the age of information rather than subprime mortgages.

In another study, Business Week listed 25 Champions of Customer Service, rated by its readers. Amazon were at the top; then USAA insurance; two upmarket car firms, Jaguar and Lexus; the Ritz-Carlton hotel group; Publix Super Markets; online catalogue retailer Zappos.Com; electronic hardware manufacturer Hewlett-Packard; stockbrokers T. Rowe Price; and retailer of electronic and home improvement kit Ace Hardware completed the top ten. The list is notable for the sheer range of the ten activities and variation of the ways in which the companies seek to stimulate their sales and profit margins, regardless of the downturn.

However, can this varied vitality point the way forward? The full list of 25 features other companies operating near the epicentre of the Credit Crunch: there’s another broker, Charles Schwab (innovator in retail selling of investments); another insurance competitor (Amica); Amex in the credit card market; and even Keybank of Cleveland, which prospers by serving the small business owners who are quite justifiably miserable about their current treatment by the beleaguered banks of Britain.

The 25 all continuously seek better ways of giving the customer greater value for money and themselves better businesses, using progressive methods ahead of their rivals. The goal is to build a company that has superior business results that march in step with a notably intellectual management machine.

Thinking managers are surviving the downturn by ‘provoking’ their customers; employing value-for-money strategies for recessionary times; making mobility matter. Thinking managers also learn from their own mistakes as well as those of non-thinkers.

About the author
Robert Heller is one of the world’s best selling authors on business management.