Humans are a funny bunch. Just when you think you have them figured out, they do something completely unexpected. It’s one of the reasons why running a business can be difficult – just when you have a solid plan, your customers throw several monkey wrenches in the gears.
A friend of mine owns a pet grooming business in a small town. It wasn’t sending her bank account into the stratosphere, but things were relatively comfortable. She liked all her customers and they liked her as she is great with animals.
One day, though, the calls started drying up. Eventually she figured out why: there was a local news story detailing how people could easily trim their puppies in the comfort of their own home. What to do?
At this point, she had two options: figure out why customers should pay for a service they could do for almost free, or go out of business. It was time to adapt.
Do or Die
You may not be faced with such a crucial decision like my friend, but at some point you are going to notice a drop in customers. It ultimately doesn’t matter what the reason is, as they left and you’re now losing money. You have to figure out how to get them back or move on.
Adaptability is why public relations works so well in the first place. You go into PR knowing you have to think like your customers, not the other way around. To do otherwise is business suicide.
However, you may be surprised how much it happens. Company reps put a post on Facebook and watch it tank. The next day, do they try something different? No, the same thing goes up, and it tanks again. They refuse to adapt because they want to promote their message, but not the one customers want to hear.
Knowing Your Customers … in the Future
Is there a way to predict activity in the future, or are we totally doomed to play catch up forever? While there may not be a way to 100% anticipate every movement a customer will make, there is a way to curb some of the shock you undoubtedly will feel when they turn on you for no reason.
I’m a big advocate of coming up with plans, and being adaptable with your PR is no different. Here, the plan should include how far you’re willing to stretch your goals and ideals. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you have to make a split decision on something that may affect your business in the long run.
Going back to my friend’s grooming service, she was put in a position where she had to figure out if she wanted to offer another service entirely. After all, nobody was coming to her for grooming, so maybe she could offer dog training? However, she wasn’t qualified to be a dog trainer and that would’ve been dangerous, both to the dogs and to her. The last time I talked to her, her business had picked back up when a few of her customers realized they didn’t want to take the time to groom their pets at home. And she was thinking of branching into cat bathing and nail trimming. It remains to be seen how she’ll do but my fingers are crossed!
If you have a plan where your boundaries are, you’ll make a better decision when crunch time occurs. If not, you may live to regret something you implemented in order to save a dying business.
On a scale of 1-10, how adaptable is your business?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 8 Shocking Secrets Press Release Distribution Firms Don’t Want You to Know here: http://www.ereleases.com/landing3.html