Adaptability is Key to Surviving and Thriving When Times Are Tough

Some people pride themselves on having always provided the same services and/or products the same way, at the same price, for years on end. They think this inflexibility in how they serve their customers, bosses and clients is a sign of brand strength, proof that they can provide something constant in a chaotic and ever-changing world.

Hooey. The people you provide products and services to, the connoisseurs of your brand, if you will, are not looking for a constant. They’re looking for the best deal or best advantage they can get today. What works best today may not be what worked best yesterday and probably won’t be what works best tomorrow. In this difficult environment when nobody wants to spend a penny they don’t have to, the only unchanging constant associated with your brand should be that you provide a top quality brand experience. Everything else should be open for negotiation.

Let me give you an example from my own brand-building experience to illustrate exactly what I mean. When I first left my career as a top executive at a Fortune 5 company to become a full-time motivational speaker, career coach and business author, I was surprised by the need to quickly and effectively change my operating model in a seamless manner.

I mean the whole enchilda: marketing, branding, client support and customer services. I no longer had the resources of a global organization to fall back upon; I had me: Michael D. Brown. If Michael D. Brown did not complete a task, no matter how small or menial, there were no support staffers to complete it for me.

On top of this drastic change in resources and responsibilities, the economy decided to start tanking right around the time I made my career switch. As the economy proves it can change drastically without warning, you need to have robust contingency plans in place that allow you to quickly reduce your operating cost while increasing the level of service and value you provide to your customers.

When the economy struggles, consumers start to look for low-cost, quality solutions and will pay little attention to a business that isn’t adjusting their pricing without sacrificing quality. This meant I had to be willing to accept less for doing the same or even more work. After all, collecting 50% of my previous fee is a lot better than collecting 0%!

By being flexible, by being willing to alter every aspect of my brand proposition except for the top-level products and services I provide, I have been able to survive and yes, even thrive as I grow my young business during one of the worst recessions in living memory. I may not be making quite as much as I would have had I stayed in my executive position, but the freedom of being my own boss and satisfaction of helping others to earn my living more than make up for any lost pay. At the end of the day, flexibility can help you obtain the most valuable brand asset of all: peace of mind.

Have you found yourself taking a more flexible approach to building your brand, either by choice or necessity, during this recession? Let me know your story!