Is fear of change holding your business back?

old dog new tricks, learn to changeKeeping up with technological advances can sometimes be exhausting. Tweeting, pinning, emailing, posting, following, linking, nurturing, live chatting… It’s enough to make your head spin. This cognitive overload of technology often leads business owners to avoid change like the plague.

Makes sense – but this sort of mentality stipends your business growth.

In fact, some organizations are so resistant to change, that by the time they act, the ship has left the harbor. And in most cases, they fail to catch up.

Kodak refused to change with the advent of digital cameras. When they finally decided to accept emerging technologies, they had fallen far behind the competition.

Blockbuster ignored the popularity of online video streaming for years. Ultimately they were forced to close hundreds of their stores to pay off debt, simply because they were too slow to change.

Now they’re playing catch-up, working hard to find their corner of the Internet for the on-demand movie market; now having to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

So how do these examples apply to you as a promotional products distributor?

“Order takers” are a dying breed, because most customers now know what they want and they’re going online to get change, low sales, how to increase sales

The few customers, who don’t know what they want, are seeking a deeper consultancy experience where their problems are discussed and several solutions are presented.

On the face of it, distributors have a choice to make: learn how to optimize your website to get a bigger share of the online ordering pie, or to seek out customers who are looking for a consultant.

In reality, a successful distributor needs to be able to do both. The convenience of online shopping is attracting more and more B2B buyers, and you can’t afford to ignore it.

Because if you wait too long, you’ll get left behind or struggling to play catch-up like Kodak and Blockbuster.

The wrong mentality: I’ve been in business x amount of years by sticking to what I know, and I’ve done just fine. Word of mouth has always been the way I’ve gained new business. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The right mentality: I may not be a marketing whizz, but I stay up-to-date with what my customers want, and I work hard to deliver that. I know my target audience and I’m learning their buying behavior so I can be on par with their needs.

Your customers are evolving, and with that evolution comes a change to their buying habits.

Here are 6 growth lessons that can help break the vicious cycle of fearing change.

1.) Be open to updating your business model to reach more people

There comes a time in every business where the existing structure no longer serves your customer.  Be open to alternative business models and take the time to play with creative ideas that allow you to cater to your target audience.

2.) Listen to the success stories of others in your industry

Not all fellow distributors have to be seen as competition. You can learn the ins and outs of this industry simply by taking the time to learn from those who have ‘been there and done that’.

Join in on a discussion forum (via LinkedIn or Facebook for example), so you can ask questions and grow. Attending trade shows is another great way to make connections and even find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes.

3.) Have a structure in place for growth

After you’ve decided how best to grow your business, be sure to put a structure in place that allows you to grow into your new goals. If your goal is to boost sales, then take the lead a horse to water, stubborn, promotional distributor, learn to change, sell onlineright steps to setting up an eCommerce website.

If your goal is to increase customer loyalty, then invest your time in a CRM so you can create a customized experience for your customers. Either way, set goals and take action.

4.) Be courageous

Go ahead and feel the fear – then do it anyways. It’s completely normal to feel fear when you’re stepping into something new. But you’re a business owner, so you know that you have to take risks in order to be successful.

5.) People first

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Get comfortable and walk around in them, because understanding the needs and wants of your customers is exactly how you’re going to stay current and needed.

6.) Use the right tools for the job

Do your research, and find out the best tools for promotional product distributors.

Not to toot our own horn, but Customer Focus has some great solutions for the promo industry (beep beep). But it’s up to you to make that choice, and the first step to deciding is by doing research.

Some companies refuse to change, and are able to sustain their client base thanks to a single, dedicated focus.

However, in the promotional products industry, just staying the course isn’t enough to survive. You need to be fluid and willing to adjust with the current times in order to thrive in this industry. Don’t let fear of change hold you or your business back.

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