Most veteran business leaders acknowledge that an organization’s fate is often determined by unforeseen and unpredictable forces.
What we can predict is that most markets experience two life cycles: a bull and a bear market. In a bull market, investors tend to be optimistic and invest in opportunities as they strive to capitalize on new growth trends. In a bear market, investors tend to be more cautious and the resources they may use to invest are cautiously held in reserve.
While this is nothing new for a seasoned business leader, it has been our experience that most organizations do not plan accordingly. It is the natural tendency for leaders to wait until they are comfortable in a bull market before they begin looking for emerging trends, and so they miss the cycle of growth. Most organizations take a considerable amount of time to shift gears and by the time new opportunities are identified, the market share is already determined.
In a bear market, the opposite occurs. The leaders naturally button down the hatches, but their long-range vision is often buttoned down as well. Leaders need to fight the natural urge to succumb to the existing market conditions and plan for the upswing of the next market cycle.
It’s understandable the many leaders dread the soft cycle, but it’s because they don’t understand the valuable purpose it serves.
The simple growth strategy many organizations have never considered is this: deliberately capitalize on the soft markets by thinking deeply about strategy and utilize the stronger markets to implement the strategies. But don’t just take our word for it. In the Great Recession of 2008, Warren Buffet scolded the stark market pessimists for ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s rallying battle cry, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”
Admittedly, there is an inherent danger in misreading the opportunities—and the tombstones of failed businesses simply can’t be ignored. The trick is to use the bear market to re-evaluate the brand strategy; to study the customer and use the opportunity to test new markets.
To be clear, we certainly are not suggesting that businesses frivolously throw money into an unstable market or to hunker down during a fast market. What we are suggesting is to be aware of the current market and use that opportunity to plan ahead; to determine where opportunities await and be the first to capture valuable market share.
When the market begins to show signs of swinging back up, it is critical to have the brand strategy solidified so one can focus on the marketing tactics and be ready to capture valuable market share, increased market share that will grow your organization.
The by-product of this simple growth strategy is that organizations will always have a sense of purpose. They will operate with a sense of urgency, aware of the times in which they live and always looking ahead.
Interested but not sure how to proceed?
Give Bolder & Co. Creative Studios a shout. As veteran branding strategists, they have earned a well-deserved reputation for helping organizations plan ahead, ensuring their long-term survival and growth.