Marketing in Tough Times Beyond simply “surviving”
There is no question that the economic times have been felt by virtually everyone. In recent months I’ve heard small business owners and sole proprietors speaking about the need for new ways to market their company, increase traffic in retail shops or build viable sales leads.
Instinctively many business owners have dialed down marketing and advertising activities “saving money”, when in reality this tactic can often cost the owner more in the long-term to regain lost traction (future marketing dollars spent to catch up), as their brand/products or services are out of the public eye.
I have been asked numerous times what can we do; how does one survive “stagflation” or whatever it’s being called these days? Here are just a few of the basics that can not only help your business survive, but also thrive:
- Don’t panic — instead of cutting back or hiding out until things get better, this is an excellent time to revisit the business/marketing plan. You may actually discover new opportunities to grow through critical thinking.
- Review your advertising — does it address the current needs of your client/prospect base? If not, it may be time for some research on what the market desires and creative that clearly addresses these perceived needs.
- Evaluate Strategy — price plays, coupons or “specials” are short-term strategies. What is the long term strategy for your brand, how are you “telling your story?”
- Database — opportunity is often found with existing clients. Developing offers, consultation or other programs unique to their needs, helping clients get through the hard times can increase opportunity and further solidify your relationship.
- Blend “traditional” and “new media” — contrary to what you read there is still a niche for local print advertising, direct mail and other forms of “traditional” tactics. Are you using marketing vehicles that reach the true end user or employing the “shotgun” approach? This may also be a good time to add key word marketing to your mix. Placing terms and carefully bidding on their viewed position can help drive needed traffic to your web site. Using e-mail “blasts” to your clients is another cost-effective way to convey offers and remain in their thoughts.
- Find the right lists — creating opportunity involves a meaningful offer, solid creative and targeted mailing lists. Information can be obtained from adept business librarians down the street or purchased from qualified list brokers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Social networking — many business people are now employing a new form of networking joining sites such as Linked®-In or Plaxo®. Connecting yourself to a decision maker may be as close as an e-mail to a colleague, supplier or ex-college roommate seeking an introduction – it beats cold calling.
- “Old school” networking — yes, it still works…speaking with other people, in-person at your local Chamber or Rotary group places you in front of other people that may have a need for your product, service or support during these challenging times. This method requires some long-term commitment and personal sacrifice. Attending meetings before or after hours; becoming truly involved can pay large dividends, as clients ultimately acknowledge your commitment with new business.
As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” The 21st century business world takes strategic thinking and constant re-examination of your business plan to do more than just survive.