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Let’s Make Some Good News

2/04/2009 07:00:00 PM

We have government leaders, mainstream media and other opinion makers talking our customers out of buying our products.

In today’s tough economy, the last thing you want is to discourage consumers from spending their money, yet it seems to be fashionable these days to say that the economy stinks, people are poor and business is terrible. 

Well, maybe business is terrible for those who are locked in an echo-chamber of negativity. Consumers, retailers and manufacturers alike are behaving as though we should be getting ready to survive on government surplus macaroni and cheese. 

Folks…our customers are not being serviced properly! They want to buy our products, but are basically talked out of making the purchase. Retailers are then inclined to cut their advertising and promotion, shorten hours and lay off staff. Manufacturers then reduce production, cut back on R&D investments and start putting out cheap cookie-cutter products that the customer does not want. The vicious cycle is complete…if we allow for it to happen. 

We can begin turning the cycle around by changing our own attitudes. Think about the opportunities that are bubbling-up in the middle of this poor economic condition. People are keeping their homes and cars longer and are accessorizing them with cool new entertainment and connectivity technologies. Cash that has not been spent in a long time only piles up, and the pent up demand for consumer goods will drive customers into the streets seeking stuff to buy. 

And what will they be buying? Not the same old tired crap – they will want innovative new products that perform. Customers will be making up for lost time…will we be ready to sell to them? 

Now look at the positive moves being made by our industry in response to the economy. Many retailers have re-focused on a new and more profitable customer base, which is probably a customer base that they have never reached before. 

There are sales reps that are working closer than ever with their retailers in true partnership, formulating more profitable product assortments and driving floor traffic through extended promotional activity. Finally, the successful manufacturers are delivering products and programs that have genuine value to their dealers, plus they are getting more involved with matters that mean to most to their dealers – profitability, consistency and the ability to draw a brand-unique customer.

Our country experienced a GDP decline of -3.8 percent from October to December 2008. But for the entire year, GDP increased by +1.3% which isn’t bad considering we had record oil and gasoline prices, a massive credit meltdown and a presidential election. Will you hear this clarification on CNN or read it in the New York Times?  Probably not, so stop paying so much attention to the bad news and let’s start making some good news.

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