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CEOs warned to “stay visible” to “stay afloat”

by Frances Manfield

With more than 400 Queensland businesses declared bankrupt in the second quarter of 2012-13, a national business strategist is urging CEOs to stay visible in order to stay afloat during difficult economic times.

Drawing on 25 years’ experience as a board member of national organisations and as a consultant to some of the Australia’s most successful firms, BBS Communications Group Chairman and Chief Executive Lady Jane Edwards warned that even strong businesses risked losing their place in the market if they became too inwardly-focused in tough times.In response to the latest figures from The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA), Lady Edwards said, “It is alarming how many businesses have taken the knife to non-operational costs such as front-line customer relations, marketing and business development at a time when these services could be helping to bring new clients and customers through the door.

“What Queensland business needs to do now is to get on to the front foot and position themselves for an upturn.

“An investment now, even if it is just time and energy rather than financial, is a huge step towards a return later in the year.”

In the quarter ending 31 December 2012, 449 Queensland businesses were declared bankrupt , a statistic that resonates with those currently feeling the pinch of operating a business in Queensland.

Lady Edwards said in an environment where while business confidence generally was low, opportunities existed for clever and committed companies.

“There has never been a more important time for Queensland companies to promote their brand in the marketplace in order to drive interest in their business.

“During downturns in particular, businesses struggle to execute three key activities: acquiring new customers, closing more deals/contracts and retaining customers,” she said.

“We are frequently asked by businesses of all sizes how they can make their dollar go further during difficult times while still achieving results that impact positively on the bottom line.

“Credibility is a company’s most important asset during uncertain times with customers across all sectors understandably exercising a higher degree of caution and undertaking research before making their decisions.”

Lady Edwards said getting the company message right and generating dialogue with clients and customers was a hugely successful activity to boost business credibility and business relationships in difficult times.

“In our experience, those companies which invest in positive customer communication during times of recession are the ones which can maintain a steady pipeline of work to see them through difficult times.

“These are the businesses which are then in the strongest position for growth once the market stabilises,” Lady Edwards said.

‘We advise our clients to use slow economic conditions as an opportunity to review the company’s position, reconnect with customers and ensure that customer-facing activity is moving in line with the business strategy.”