How prepared are you for the return of demand?


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The economies of many countries around the world have been effectively stalled by the world wide covid 19 pandemic. Demand has slowed or been actively curtailed by governments in their fight to stem the growth of the pandemic. However, Covid and governments have only postponed customer demand; it has not gone away but has only been delayed.

How prepared are you and your business for the return of demand? The return may be quick or slow, thus preparation must be made for either case.

The sole purpose for any business is to produce profit. That profit is for the benefit of the owners, but it is also for the benefit of the employees, without whom the business would not be possible. The responsibility for the production and maximisation of profitable income for the long term future of a business lies with the commercial manager. Profitable income is produced by anticipating and satisfying customer requirements, which means that customer satisfaction must be at the centre of a commercial organisation’s thinking.

With business effectively stalled, or severely curtailed, due to government constraints imposed because of the pandemic, a reassessment of the business and its markets may be called for, because the economic and market situation may well be different after the end of lock-downs.

In this new situation, the commercial manager might consider first the basis of the business.
* Is the Mission statement still valid?
* What are the business objectives, are they still valid?
* What are the business objectives, in terms of income, profit, market share, development? Are these objectives still valid and obtainable?
* Is the business sustainable in the present form?

In the most serious situation, ensuring the survival of the business will be paramount. The existing business or marketing plan will be redundant, and the only objective should be to establish and maintain a level of cash flow which will maintain the business for the immediate future. Cutting costs where possible, will reduce the outflow of money, but will not help in producing the necessary income..

To this end the commercial manager should take some emergency action;

* List all the realistic cash generating opportunities available in order of quick decision making.
* Rate each opportunity on a scale of 1 to 5 for its potential success.

* Avoid the distraction of opportunities that will take time to develop and action.

* Concentrate resources and effort on those opportunities with the best potential to effect a successful outcome in the shortest time to obtain income

Once some opportunities have been achieved and some stability of income obtained, commercial managers should look at the planned marketing objectives in order to assess, whether they are still valid in the present situation, and if not, how they may need to be changed. The business is dependent on achieving the desired level of profitable income, but with changed market and economic circumstances is this still possible with the existing plan? Are sales targets likely to be achieved from the principle customers, or have their requirements been deferred or no longer needed?
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” and the same may be said for business and marketing plans. As soon as marketing plan is put into action, it requires change and development to meet changing market conditions. In the current business climate, commercial managers must expect business conditions to be changing, perhaps quite rapidly, and therefore they need to be continually revising their action plans or if necessary enacting pre prepared contingency actions. While constantly re-appraising the marketing plan, commercial managers need to be able to answer the following questions:
* Is the money coming in as planned? If not, – why?
* Are the principle orders likely to be confirmed as planned?
* Are customers intentions still valid, – how do we know?
* How to react short and long term to change in both the market and customer requirement?
For many businesses in these unprecedented times, survival is the name of the game. For the commercial manager, short term requirements will be more important than long term targets, if the business is to survive the pandemic and pursue its long term objectives. In a rapidly changing world, the successful commercial manager must be vigilant in identifying, observing and understanding those indicators that give rise to both opportunities and threats and agile in reacting accordingly.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 20 Jan 21

Nicholas Watkis, AE MA DipM CMC FCIM
Nicholas Watkis set up Contract Marketing Service in 1981, providing professional interim marketing management for a wide variety of businesses. Over 30 years practical experience in organizations, large and small, national and international, led to the development of Business Performance Maximized specialist in marketing performance measurement.


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