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January 2003
A New Year — A New Outlook — Create New Opportunities!
By John Paul Galles

     As one year ends and another begins, economists across the country are proffering rosier forecasts of economic activity for the coming year. Most seem to believe that we are past the low point of the current recession and are now in a recovery, albeit less robust than we would like. According to the experts, the new year will show improvement with real GDP climbing by about 3.2 percent, consumption spending continuing to grow at about 3.5 percent, and unemployment dropping to about 5 percent by year’s end. The indicators are positive for 2003, despite our confrontations with Iraq, fears of another terrorist attack, and the continuing corporate layoffs.

     A new year provides an opportunity to review your competitive position, analyze your operations, prepare your marketing plans, and take action that will determine your own course of business. More than likely, your business has become leaner over the last few years. You may have reduced your employee base; you certainly have cut out unnecessary expenses; you have paid down your debt to the extent possible; and you have postponed major purchases. You have worked hard to maintain your base of business and expand on your services to that base.

     A lot of your comrades and competitors have gone out of business in the last few years. Others have changed their identities, reorganizing or merging or being acquired by others. These past few years have made it necessary to be more sensitive and responsive to market changes than ever before at a time when the rewards for being on target are mere survival. It has been a very frustrating time to execute any plans for expansion or growth.

     Recently, however, a survey of local business owners suggests that earnings in the fourth quarter of 2002 have been better than in the fourth quarter of 2001. That suggests that area businesses may be poised for some growth in 2003. From a cautionary standpoint, no one expects to see business-spending levels like they saw in the fourth quarter of 1999, which were unreal from any perspective, but they are ready to take a more aggressive approach to business growth.

     Timing is everything and current timing could not be better. With reduced competition and economic forces on the upswing, it is time to take advantage of the current marketplace, seize greater market share and grow your business. Shout to your marketplace and to your customers, clients and prospects that you are alive, open for business and ready to step forward into new ventures and projects. Dust off your logo, hone your message and target your limited dollars to the most appropriate vehicles for carrying your name and your products and services to likely customers.

     If you are looking for return on investment of your advertising dollars, you should look past prime time or drive time. Advertising is no longer a time-of-day, it is more affected by frame of mind – when your customers are tuned in and open to receiving your message, when your message in text and images invites them in, and when you are there. It is becoming increasingly difficult to penetrate the minds and time of potential customers in our increasingly combatant environment. So you want some staying power to your advertising message – advertising that “hangs around,” ready to engulf a prospective customer at the merest sign of interest.

     And if advertising itself were simply a matter of being in business, the yellow pages would suffice. To be really effective, your advertising needs to be value-added. It needs to inform your customer that you are there and that you have something to offer that he or she cannot get as good anywhere else. It needs to convince your customer that he or she really cannot afford not to partake of your products or services. And that needs to be true. And your message needs to clearly convey those ideas and impressions.

     Even in really tough years, when budgets are tight, customers will find money for good ideas that enable them to accomplish their major objectives and help them overcome challenges. Building your brand and raising your identity will deliver new and renewed business as your prospects choose products and services from those they know and trust. Creating a presence for forging lasting relationships is essential to conducting business with increased profit potential.

      We at Greater Charlotte Biz create a lasting impression for your message, identify the value-added components of your product or service, and build a strong measure of confidence in your product or service. Reaching nearly 20,000 businesses in 16 counties on a monthly basis for several years now, in an informative and highly colorful glossy format, we are in business to help you grow your business.

      Please don’t hesitate to call and learn about expanding your presence in the Charlotte regional marketplace through our publication. We will be happy to sit down with you and help you grow regardless of your advertising budget. Thank you for reading Greater Charlotte Biz. We encourage you to do business with our advertisers soon and often.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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