This is the seventh in a series expanding on my friend Ross Sturleys’ Ten Things to Cut in a Recession Before You Cut Your Marketing (as presented in recent Construction News marketing e-newsletters and in his Chart Lane website).
Number seven: “Cut corporate entertainment”
The latest target for Ross’s cost-cutting zeal is ‘golf days’ (see his Construction News article), and he quotes Peter Woolliscroft, chair of the Construction Clients’ Group and former head of Procure21, who told February’s CIMCIG conference that ‘the days of procurement decisions being based on golf days were long gone’.
In Ross’s view, some sales managers use golf days as a corporate excuse to indulge in one of their favourite pastimes while talking to key customers – thus betraying a lack of confidence in their ability to do anything but focus on selling. Ross suggests equipping them with skills and information that help show how they, their company and/or their products or services differ from the competition:
“Differentiate your business through clear and useful communications, your actions, and your delivery.“
Again, I would propose some Web 2.0 aspects to cutting corporate entertainment. Here’s five ideas:
- Get blogging – I wrote earlier this year about why companies should blog and in a follow-up guest post HOK’s ‘chief blogger’ talked about using blogs to help change the external perception of the company and to appeal to future business partners and clients (strategies also shared by other firms – see Blog motivations in large AEC companies). Whether companies want to make their corporate personality more human or promote their positions on strategic issues, blogging can be a good way of helping differentiate one supplier from another – assuming, of course, that the customer or prospect reads – or, at the very least, can be directed to read – the corporate blog.
- Get Tweeting – Similarly, if the customer or prospect uses Twitter (and a small but increasingly connected minority of AEC professionals are beginning to embrace this micro-blogging approach), then quick responses to questions, useful links or comments, can again show how you or your business can make a difference (see Should every business Twitter?).
- Take events online – With recession-driven time constraints restricting opportunities to meet face-to-face, why not use the internet to meet customers? Using WebEx, Glance, LiveMeeting, Ustream, etc, some events (think CPD training seminars, hints and tips, Ask the Expert, case study presentations, product launches, etc) can be held online with no travel requirement and a limited time commitment. And even if people can’t attend a live event, you can usually record them and share them afterwards (including via YouTube, Vimeo and Slideshare).
- Share the insights of other customers – Sometimes suppliers of goods or services overlook the value that is locked-up within their organisation’s relationships. Building an online community or creating a wiki that allows customers to share knowledge or information with their counterparts can help them learn from others’ good practices, avoid re-inventing the wheel, etc
- Make virtual relationships face-to-face – As I explained in March (see People having conversations on- and offline and Meet then Tweet), social media need not be restricted to online communication. It is easy to hold an informal “Tweet-up” or to invite members of an online community to meet up for a coffee or a couple of pints. It may not be as structured as a golf day, of course, but your network of complementary professionals could be a powerful differentiator for your customer.
What other tactics could be used to redirect your corporate entertainment budget? Let me know.
Coming soon: Number eight: Cut post