What If My Market Is Dead?

By Kraig Kramers

Today, we ask the question: What if your market is dead — if it just isn’t there anymore?

That’s a scary question, of course, but one you can’t shy away from. Particularly in this difficult economy, with the entire global marketplace shifting beneath our feet, effective leaders are those who constantly stay on top of their markets.

So, say you confront this issue, and come up with the dreaded answer: Your market’s dying. What now? How to gain more market share — or get yours back when it starts to vanish?

There are two main routes:

1. Taking market share away from your competitors. Be warned: It’s very hard to take market share away from others. This always boils down to making more calls on competitors’ larger accounts, finding out specifically why customers buy from them, and then finding out what else those customers want — and then providing both of those things.

Every business is different here, but re-read those words and point your selling mechanism at that concept. Of course, your “selling mechanism” might be salespeople, but more probably is the “what causes sales” we’ve talked about so many times at CEOtools.com. (To catch up with that conversation, go to CEOtools.com, click on New Tools Catalog, and scroll down to last tool.)

2. Broadening your market definition. There’s another tactic you can try: broadening your market definition. Let’s take the construction business as an example. If you’re in construction, instead of limiting your business to building homes, broaden it: Remodel homes, expand into commercial housing, pursue office building remodeling, and so on. If you’re already a remodeler, what about showing folks how to become do-It-yourselfers (of course, charging for certain aspects of doing that)? Think about providing clients with special tools, techniques, even designs or just the parts they don’t want to or can’t do themselves (e.g., tile work). The idea here is to broaden our thinking!

Focus on just these two areas, and I’m pretty sure you’ll see that your market is there, just in a different form than you’re used to. And isn’t unlocking new markets a big part of what being an entrepreneur is all about in the first place?

Kraig Kramers is the president and CEO of CEO Tools, Inc., a website that he developed for managers based on his experiences as CEO of eight companies and manager of 16 others, ranging in size from just $1 million in sales annually to $250 million per year. You can e-mail Kramers at info@ceotools.com.
Originally published: Sep 28, 2011

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