It may not be official, but it seems that we are in yet another recession. For me it has that "been there, done that" feeling. However, since my business has lived through a few of these cycles, and they are cycles, I have come to see them as opportunities.
I would like to provide some insight and tips on how to grow your business during a recession and come out stronger on the other side.
Keep Your Marketing Smart but Active
During an economic downturn, many companies slash their marketing budgets. This is a shortsighted strategy because tough economic times provide an opportunity for companies that continue their marketing efforts to have greater visibility, while their competitors' fade to the background.
Find Active Buyers
Consider implementing a lead generation program to help you find buyers who are in a buying cycle now. There are companies that specialize in cold calling to a very well developed list. They are able to deliver "warm" leads for a relatively low cost.
Be Sure Your Message Suits the Times
Does your message strike a chord with your customers now? Perhaps promoting long-term value as opposed to "luxury" is a message that will make clients feel more secure in spending. Listen to what is going on in the news. Try to gain an understanding of what your customers are struggling with. Then offer them a solution that fits their needs. And remember to offer them some hope in these tough times.
Grow Your Garden
Smart companies see a downturn as opportunity to look at current customers, expand relationships and to build customer loyalty. Clients remember a business that is willing to work with them on pricing and flexible financial arrangements. When the economy improves, they will be loyal to a company who partnered with them when times were tough.
Use Branding to Reap Long-term Benefits
A strong brand helps clients trust a company and will influence them to buy later on. One of the greatest challenges for small companies is to make a name for themselves. A downturn actually provides an opportunity to do that because many of your competitors will curtail their marketing efforts, giving your firm the opportunity to rise to that "top of mind" position.
The Wall Street Journal recently noted that copy, the text description of products is still the No. 1 factor in whether we buy or not. Do what you do best for your business and hire professionals to market your business. You have only one chance to make a first impression. Investing in professional marketing strategy, copywriting, graphic design and public relations will work to build a strong and memorable image of your business in your customer's minds. Don't try to do it yourself. You may make costly mistakes.
Use the Web
Online marketing is less expensive than print and radio and can be easily quantified. Talk to a web marketing professional to help you develop and place banner ads and develop email campaigns.
Use SEO to Analyze Your Efforts
A Search Engine Optimization expert can provide you with analytics in the form of monthly reports to quantify which key words clients are using to find your firm, how many searches are converted to click throughs and what online advertising people are responding to.
Direct Mail, Inexpensive and Effective
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, direct mail is still a larger industry than all online marketing. And it still works. Use direct mail to drive the recipient to your web site and make the sale.
Position Yourself as a Thought Leader
By hosting seminars about subjects that are of interest to your client base, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. These can be small invitation-only gatherings, which are held at your office or at an interesting venue. You can reach a larger segment of your industry by sponsoring or speaking at an industry event. If you are perceived as the expert in your field, you will attract the respect and budget allocations your potential clients.
Use Social Networking
LinkedIn has become a mainstream venue for professional networking. The average user is a 41 year-old professional. Never before in history has it been possible to reach out and touch your potential target so easily. Is there someone you want to connect with? Chances are you have a mutual connection on LinkedIn and can ask for an introduction.
Use Online Directories Like Jigsaw to Find Customers
Online directories like Jigsaw allow you to bypass gatekeepers and get directly to decision makers. More than 500 corporations are listed with Jigsaw and there are more than 450,000 members. You can "pay" or "play" on Jigsaw. Paying members pay a monthly subscription fee to get online business cards of contacts they wish to make, which include titles, email addresses and phone numbers. "Players" contribute a certain number of names and trade those names for names that they want.
10 Low-cost marketing tips that you can use right now to grow your business!
- Take advantage of the opportunity to market your firm while your competitors are hibernating
- Spend most of your marketing budget on your website, lead generation and direct mail
- Use Social Networking and online resources like LinkedIn, Jigsaw and even youtube and Facebook to find your target audience and build a list
- Use direct mail to drive customers to your web site
- Use SEO to analyze your web advertising
- Be sure your marketing message reflects your client's current mood
- Develop new product and service offerings with value pricing and messaging giving your prospects multiple price options to buy from you
- Position yourself as a leader in your industry
- Remember, you have only one chance to make a first impression
- Be a hunter
Karen Spencer is president and creative director of Karen Spencer Design Inc. of Armonk. Reach her at 914 273-9517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Spencer Design, Inc. is an award-winning design firm specializing in tailored visual advertising materials that accurately represent corporate branding. Services include Custom Publishing, Event Marketing, Graphic Design, Strategic Marketing Design, Multimedia Design, Website Design, Business Logo Development, and Educational and Medical Marketing Management.