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Major League Slump
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My current comments about this article:

Major League Slumps

 

"Slump" is a cryptic word. And it's valuable to dissect

it character by character to unravel the lessons of surviving

From "slump", we directly find "slum", "lump", "ump",

"MP"; and indirectly discover, "mul", "pus", "plus", "plums",

and "sum". There is no order of priority in studying the

derivatives, for they muster an integrated system of

corporate actions which ultimately lead to fight-or-flight

marketing decisions.

.

Like it or

it, "slumps are a economic fact of

life", so the old saw goes. Actually, they are hardly

economic! They're human, for it seems that one of

wo/mankinds greatest failings is the inability to resist

acting like a perpetual pendulum which never stops dead

center on any matter. Whoever said, "Everthing in

Moderation" said an economyful because some of the heralded

computer slump is no more than a trimming of the fat down to

the lean.

Nonetheless, "The Computer Slump" has made the cover of

Business Week and many other covers. Consequently, it's in

the minds of many and therefore is reality -- like it or

it, "The Slump" must be addressed.

)

Therefore, it's wise to

(L) this Slump over before

creating a knee jerk reaction to a headache that may belong

only to other companies and never yours -- today as well as

tomorrow.

The first task is obviously to assess the situation. As

important as this is financially, it's equally important for

a non-financial reasons: To immediately and accurately

communicate the company's status to its employees.

Employees talk. In the absence of facts they speculate.

And in their speculation, they start rumors which serve to

validate their anxiety which the lack of facts initally

created. Rumors croak productivity and decaying productivity

creates its own

. For certain, nothing oozes more PUS

than a sales force infected with skepticism.

So, whether a company is affected or not, it's time to

crank out the house organs with charts that compare us-

versus-them; with discussions of the key indicators that

elucidate the charts' characteristics; and with plans for

coping with the situation. There is no one gesture that is

more beneficial to both the company and its employees than an

up-front, internal relations campaign. Contrary to the

notion that doing the above is defensive, the opposing

silence is ominously evasive.

Nothing cures rumors faster than a dose of the truth.

If the company is above the slump, it creates confidence,

dispels worry and most importantly annihilates demoralizing

excuse-making by those who find it convenient to seek refuge

in such commisserating, i.e the marginal salesperson,

staffer, and manager. Then again if the company is in the

slump trough or below it, the factual charts provide a

benchmark for measuring improvement while putting all on

notice for that improvement.

Since the focus of this column is on sales and

marketing, stands for arketing olice; but in a broader

sense it could equate to management police.

The core policing action takes two forms: The first

addresses the quality and quantity of the selling effort.

The second addresses the cost and feasiblity of the first.

The prime rule of the military is to control the

battlefield. My corollary is to know where the battlefield

is. Though, this sounds ridiculously simple, it isn't. Lack

of agreement regarding the agents offending profits is very

costly.

The next step is to know what resources are necessary to

control the battle... and obviously which are available to be

used. In tight times many resources may not be available.

Those that are -- both internally and externally -- must give

a 100%

effort.

The

piring function is one putting fairness and

balance into the policing action.

Whipping a sales force isn't very fair if there is

little it can do to affect improvement in the marketplace;

and vice versa with all the various marketing departments.

Neither is there much balance to across-the-board cuts.

A-T-B cuts are the antithesis of target marketing, or target

anything. Just as there are preferred market segments in

good times there should be more select segments during

difficult times. 80/20 rules and the like do exist. And it

is possible to capitalize on the them by focusing on their

attainment. Policing sales efficiency is the conerstone to

slump survival.

Don't immediately cut advertising/pr budgets without

first directing them towards the newly selected segments.

However, do cut sales commissions on the undesired segments

and do increase them on sales to the selected segments. Etc.,

etc., etc.

There's nothing new here. But how often a slick

sounding "operation", like "Operation Turnabout", is created

only to die after the initial speeches, puffery and optimism

because there was not adequate focus, feedback and incentives

to sustain its life.

It's also a time for tactics more than strategies... but

of a different kind. Throw out the traditional definition

that is based on short range goals and go to counter-tactics

based upon the immediate movements of other companies in your

industry or sub-industry.

There are companies who will have to take flight rather

than fight for pure lack of staying power. This opens market

share. It also creates extra market opportunities. Slumps

are the time to reconnoiter and to select undervalued and

vulnerable markets that are best suited for the company's

income. Call it

ming if you must, but it's a real

revenue opportunity.

.

The

total of this article is that The Slump, while

not anyone's cup of tea, offers some

whether a company

is affected by it or not. Most importantly, it creates an

environment in which most everyone's attention is really

riveted on the well being of the company -- if for no other

reason than personal selfishness. This provides the theater

in which to heighten corporate communications; re-evaluate

exisiting market segments, advertising/pr budgets, sales

compensation plans etc... all while seeking opportunities

outside the corporations traditional boundaries. In good

times, this all seems so marginal or rock-the-boatish, that

if done it is often too cautiously approached to be

effective..

So in a very ironic way, slumps, which threaten to dash

a company back to its shakey origins, provide the environment

beforehand to more gentley make the company reflect back to

the original spirit and vitality which nurtured its initial

growth. In short, slumps teach a company about its own

survival. And that's the

pest

of all.

Sottile's Winning Action Team
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Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John Sottile