Well, I just can’t resist putting my 2 cents worth into this area. I probably don’t know a lot but, it seems, neither does anyone else (particularly the Obama administration). Stimulus packages don’t stimulate anyting but the budget deficit…but I’ll save that for another day.
With respect to your business, unless you are in one of a very few niches, the economy has been an equal opportunity troublemaker. Your demand is likely down 15-40% and your sales team can’t do a darned thing about it (or so they think). Now is the time to be setting the table for the recovery. While, here in the Midwest, the economy doesn’t appear to have reached it’s bottom, the coasts seem to have bottomed-out. Now, in my personal opinion, we will stay at the bottom for a period time followed by a long, steady climb. It will be at least a couple years until we get really rolling as a world economy, again. I don’t think, however, that employment will follow quickly (part of the reason for the long, slow recovery).
Back to setting the table…You absolutely have to continue to market your business. If you want to conserve cash, then do frequent, smaller marketing campaigns. Go for TV to radio. Go from mass mailings to targeted, integrated marketing. Whatever you do, don’t stop telling people you are still in business and ready to serve. Studies have repeatedly shown that companies who market through a recession, come out early and grow faster when the recovery arrives.
Make sure your products/services are what your customers really want. Now is the time to get your research hat on and go visit customers. What they used to buy from you may not be what they will buy tomorrow. Get rid of trailing products/services and develop new ones based on what your research tells you. This is a the most effective way to reduce costs without cutting muscle.
Take a good look at your team. Do you have the right people in the right seats? Get rid of the one-trick ponies and keep strong, multi-talented people. They may cost a bit more on paper, but will benefit you way more than the narrowly focused ones.
For those in manufacturing industries, don’t stop maintaining your equipment. You can’t afford to not be ready when the turnaround begins. If you can’t deliver, there will be dozens of competitors who will gladly fill the void. Make sure your operations team can keep the promises that sales makes. It will never be more about the customer than now and into the future. If your entire organization doesn’t get that, you’re in trouble.
Fix what is broken now and the future will be yours.