Apply racing tactics for the difficult years ahead

Business tactics are maneuvers that help you to reach your target market and get a customer. Sometimes, we use tactics to stop customers from going to a competitor. More specifically, business tactics include product, marketing, distribution and pricing initiatives you create and then execute in your marketplace.

In sports such as sailboat racing, tactics involve handling situations with other boats. Boats sailing with the wind coming over the right side of the boat are on “starboard tack,” and have the right of way over boats going the other way. Tactics help you decide, when you're on “port tack” approaching a starboard boat, whether you should cross behind the other boat, or tack so that you're on starboard, too.

The coming years promise a lot of volatility for business. Unstable economic/political conditions and weak consumer sentiment mean that businesses will be working with a range of domestic and wider influences that will cause uncertainty. This phenomenon will have upsides and problems for businesses.

Some industries are more impacted than others. ‘Me too’ businesses will come under major pressure. A ‘me too’ business is one that simply replicates what everyone else in their industry or sector does. They work on the basis that there is a consistent and proven formula and if you follow the formula everything should work out. That’s fine in theory, but the problem is that they are doing nothing to differentiate you in their market. This lack of differentiation may leave the customers with no compelling reason to continue doing business with you.

Businesses need to follow the correct tactics. Their objective must be not to simply grab and defend some business share, but to create a sustainable business.

In a buoyant market businesses can survive without any application of business tactics. There is plenty of business for everyone. The challenge for the market is more supply than demand. The scenario turns around in a volatile market. Demand can be patchy or depressed. Everyone is chasing business and if businesses don’t play tactics then they are going to win business, either by chance or by killing prices.

Most SMEs are not able to enter into a severe price war. They don’t have the capital reserves or the economies of scale to compress their profit margins.

In business, you use tactics to help your potential customers become aware of your existence, to smooth relationships with unhappy customers, to form partnerships with other businesses. Business tactics help you navigate the seas of commerce, and while you may not be trying to win at the expense of others; sound business tactics can prevent you from losing.

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