These are times for the bold. If you want to stay in business, that is. All of a sudden, business isn’t rolling in like it used to. You have to try harder. Work harder. Market better. Some will get discouraged by it all, but others will get excited and see opportunities. The question is, which side are you on? Are you planning to stay in business or close your doors?
If you plan not only to stay in business, but to come out of this recession with a gain in market share and stuck-like-glue customers, it’s time to grab the bull by the horns, if you haven’t done so already. There are plenty of companies doing business during the recession. There are consumers spending money. There are industries that do just as well or better during recessions. Think health care, education, law, or anyone in outsourcing. Are you interested in selling to folks who are buying?
The good news is that during recessions, the amateurs will go out of business in most industries. In good times, all kinds of people get customers without having experience or talent, exercising professionalism, or providing great service. Web design & development is one such example: because of the low cost of entry, anyone with a software program can call themselves a web designer. But now, you just can’t afford to hire your friend’s cousin to build your website.
And while it’s sad to see companies go out of business, people and resources get redistributed during recessions. These folks will find jobs or start businesses for which they’re better suited. Or, they’ll have to learn, shape up, and be bold to stay in business. The smart, aggressive companies, on the other hand, will have opportunities to grab and service all those orphaned customers. Just think of all the new customers you can get…with fewer competitors to go after them!
But the competition for all this new business will be fierce, for sure. So what are you doing to let your potential clientele know that you’re around and planning to stay? To make your voice heard among the noise? To have people pay attention to you? Do you have marketing programs and business processes in place to go after the opportunities?
If you already have successful marketing programs and strong business processes in place, kudos to you. Expand, expand, expand! If you’ve waited ’til now to start hustling, don’t despair. There’s still time to initiate new efforts. But that time is NOW.
Step #1: Evaluate what marketing programs you are currently doing and how successful they are. Are they bringing the ROI you expect, and if not, should you adjust or nix them? Just testing new methods for your existing tactics can do wonders to increase ROI. Can you improve the sales copy on your direct mail pieces? Have you tested various subject lines in your e-mail campaigns? Do you have opt-in elements on your website?
Step #2: What media mix are you using? I recently read that most businesses use 3-4 media channels for their marketing while very successful businesses use 8-10 different types of media. So if you’re only using 3-4, look into using more. But only if the 3-4 you already use are performing well. If not, go back to step one.
And, no, you don’t necessarily have to increase your expenses. There are many effective, low-cost marketing tactics to try and test to find out how they perform. Start small. How about a low-budget pay-per-click campaign to research what terms prospective buyers use to find a business like yours? Or a monthly e-mail newsletter? Or a small and targeted direct mail campaign? Or a maintenance program with recurring revenue?
Several of my clients are not only maintaining their marketing budgets this year, they’re adding new types of media to their marketing mix. We’re starting small, and that’s okay. If we prove that these new tactics work in generating more business, we’ll increase those budgets. After all, it makes sense to spend $1 to make $2 dollars, right?