These past few days have brought optimistic forecasts for both world and Italian economies in 2018. Recovery has returned. However, with great difficulty will customers knock on the doors of the small and medium-sized businesses. It is necessary to have a very clear idea on what actions need to be put in place to succeed in collecting the opportunities offered by world trade. In other words, it’s necessary to have a strategy. Here are some ideas:

  1. In which markets will I concentrate my efforts? Will we attend the usual fairs again in 2018 or is it time to explore new ones? Are the agents and distributors we have doing well or is it time to look for new ones? Do we schedule a visit to the “old” German client that we haven’t met in a while?
  2. Which product do we want to bet on? Given that the market has never been so competitive, it’s better to focus on just one or a few products so as to be more effective. Which are our flagship products? Which are the ones that distinguish us from our competitors?
  3. It is clear that sales channels are changing, with digital marketing dominating and growing in double-digit percentages. Faced with this phenomenon we can adopt two strategies: defend or attack. For example, it has become ever more common to try on shoes in the store and then buying them online. Therefore, some shops have taken to charging a 10 Euro “try-on” fee if you do not buy them. The more creative boutiques are instead looking for ways to sell online (for example through other platforms, such as Farfetech). What can I do to seize the opportunities of online commerce? Even if I do not sell online it is important to understand if at the end of the chain my products arrive on the market only through traditional distribution or also with online sales.
  4. What can I do to improve my communication in 2018? Given that this is a sore point for many small and medium-sized businesses, what do I intend to do to improve my product’s and my company’s exposure in the selected markets? Does my website have all the right requirements (graphics, SEO, etc.)? Can communication on social media be useful for my purposes? Is it time to change agencies if we want to change the “face” of our catalogue?

The year that has just begun will not be good or bad just because the newspapers tell us so, but to the extent that we will be able to draw up a strategy and implement concrete actions. The famous comic and actor Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”.
I have already talked about these issues in the post YEAR-END REVIEW AND FORECASTS