5 Tips for Staying Strong in a Tough Economy


Mark Hiskey, President of ILIo, reveals the changes his company made to meet the challenges of the current financial climate. 

1. Refocus on core successes.
As a distributor of virtual instrument software and soundware, we represent several developers, but when we first noticed the market contracting, we retrenched and focused on maximizing the potential of our core products, rather than diverting too much of our attention to fringe, unproven or riskier items. We also implemented programs that built on the strengths of those core products, such as a hard disk pre-installation program for dealers and customers to save them time and trouble.

2. Listen to employees.
About a year ago, I began using our weekly staff meetings as brainstorming sessions to generate ideas on everything from increasing sales to cutting costs. At ILIO everyone interacts with our customers at some level, so they understand the significance of what we sell and to whom. We use this collective experience to design dealer programs and sales promotions that work. Not everything sticks, but using this info helps keep us from shooting in the dark.

3. Find cost-effective marketing alternatives.
A simple idea that came from our staff meetings was to reach out to our dealer and customer e-mail lists more proactively with news and calls to action. We now send special promotions, news about product updates or even recent product reviews and awards, just to stay top-of-mind among our customer base. We’re also making sure we track the success of banner ads and the like with quantifiable click-through and conversion data.

4. Track expenses.
When it became apparent last year that we were approaching a cash flow squeeze, we stepped back and took a look at all of our expenses. The sooner you get out of survival mode and into success mode, the better, and adjusting your spending is one of the quickest ways to make that switch.

5. Never panic.
Panic leads to rash actions you’ll inevitably regret. If your stomach is churning and your head isn’t screwed on straight, take a walk and come back when you’re ready to attack the problem head-on.