In part one of this series I discussed the art of planning as a life jacket in a melt down. As a preface to that I think I need to add that it is very important to possess the right attitude when it comes to taking advantage of the challenge. You’ve heard it all before of course, “Think Positive and Win”; “Be a ‘Can do’ Man”; “Believe in yourself etc.”. I’ve been around a while and I’ve learned not to be sceptical about belief systems and looking forward,
not back.

I recently spent some six months in rehabilitation after a serious illness and I can tell you I learned more about the very human, positive reinforcement from that experience than anyone could ever imagine. It wasn’t my sick ramblings that drew me to the conclusion that people, with hope and a belief in their own potential for achievement, are more likely to survive, become healthy and rise to that special place of success, whatever you determine that to be. I saw men who lost their lives because they could not see the way forward when it presented itself to them. I saw folk who simply faded and became shadows of what they could be because they looked at what they had lost and not what they had. I and many like me are living testimony that if you believe something is possible, attach that belief to a plan for success and work at it obstinately you will win. It takes that sort of attitude to win this game and defy the melt down.

Here’s a simple start to the plan. It’s just the basics, so first begin by researching. No matter whether you’ve been in business for ten years or five minutes things are in a constant state of change and you need to be ahead of the game. First look at your internal product needs. What problem do you solve? Look at things from a different perspective. If you make widgets or buy and sell them wholesale, lease them, rent them – no matter, ask the question, ‘what do they do for the consumer?’. Look at what problem they solve and think it through – are they needed or wanted?. The difference is of course significant. Need in the new environment is about to be paramount issue because when consumers become price sensitive and discriminatory, ‘need’ will conquer ‘want’ every time and marketing ‘need items’ is a very different proposition to ‘want items’. Value becomes an issue and the equation is intriguing.

Value = The solution to the problem

The cost

So the strength of the problem is measured by the power of the need. If the ‘need’ is light on, it’s more likely a ‘want’. If on the other hand it’s a necessity it’s a real need and that makes the desire to solve the problem more intense. Greater intensity means the product is in demand, all that you should be working on is the price. If the consumer sees it as the right solution and it’s priced within their means – it’s value. So understanding what you offer in terms of ‘solution strengths’ is of major importance.

Next you need to research your consumer target and the market. Who are they? What is their demographic – socio economics? Where do they live? What does the product do for them and how do they see it? Where do they buy it? How do they perceive its benefits? What more do they want from it and do you provide the service they need to satisfy their complete needs or wants? And when you think you know enough you’ll be wrong because you can never know enough about the consumer.
Obviously, there is so much more to research than this but surprisingly this very basic ingredient is usually missing from most small to mid size businesses today. While you’ll learn plenty and some of it you won’t like, it will be the truth. Keep it close because it’s just part of the plan and when we have gathered all the ingredients I’ll show you how to mix them to help stop
the starvation.

If this is all too humble a task for you? Consider this. You’re in your local IKEA store and suddenly this 80 year old man confronts you, he’s a bit shabby and abrupt. He asks, “What did you buy?” “Do you think it was worth the price?” “Why did you buy it?” “Is there anything better around?” You’re stunned! You should be! You’ve just been interrogated by Ingvar Kamprad, arguably the world’s richest man (worth US$57 billion) founder of IKEA and still researching to find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.