5 Steps to Successful Marketing During a Recession

“Firings will continue until the declining morale improves…” In a difficult economic environment, many small businesses respond to slowing sales with the exact same reaction: cut expenses by reducing sales and marketing efforts therefore guarantying a further decline in sales. STOP CREATING THE PROBLEM.  Neither sales nor morale will improve by reacting with fear or staff reductions. Small business owners should consider using these slower economic times to refine their marketing efforts and increase their sales by implementing these five common sense steps to successful marketing.

Step One: Go Back to the Basics.  During strong economic times, every marketing idea is valuable, sales are strong, and time is very limited. Resources are directed at many ideas and campaigns leaving little time to analyze the target market or the effectiveness of each marketing campaign. Now, there is more time and less resources. Use time as an investment and go back to the basics. Start by working ON your business instead of IN your business. Become a student of your business, your competitors, and your clients by asking the following questions: What is your product differentiation? What makes your company/product/service better/different than the competition? Why do your clients buy from you? Do you compete on cost, value, quality, what? This is your unique marketing advantage.  Then ask:  Does your company slogan, logo, web site, marketing material, and sales literature clearly identify your unique advantages? Are you developing an image and a brand? If not, (Just Do It – name that brand…) make some adjustments and improve the impact, consistency, and effectiveness of your message.

Step Two: Know Your Clients. Most small business owners struggle with handling the onslaught of a dozen different tasks that are critical and must be completed … yesterday. At times, small business ownership is like drinking out of a fire hydrant, too many things to do, so little time. Slower economic times allow for more review and reflection. This is why it is so important to stop… look around, and understand, who is your client? What are your client demographics? Age, sex, location, needs, values, income levels, etc? What problems or challenges or needs does your product fulfill for your clients? Are your efforts targeted at your common client characteristics? Also, keep in mind the most important process in sales. Clients buy on emotion and then support their decisions with logic. Example:  I just bought a brand new car. It has all of these features…and I got it for $5,000 off the sticker price (logic). Or, I bought the car because it makes me feel: safe, secure, excited, powerful, attractive, respected, proud, happy, and (I got it on sale…) smart. People buy to fulfill emotional needs. What emotional need is driving your clients? What emotions do your clients experience when they use your product or service? What emotions do you have when you experience your own product? Do you know? Knowing your client’s demographics and knowing your client’s emotional needs will help you structure and target your marketing campaign.

Step Three:  Don’t Ignore the Obvious.  At times, so much effort is placed on developing that next sale, closing the next deal, or promoting your newest idea that the most obvious marketing focus is missed.  Ask yourself this simple question: Who is the mostly likely person who will respond to your marketing efforts and buy from you? Answer: your existing clients because they have already done it once before. Sometimes, our last client gets lost in all of the efforts to attract our next client. But think: Your existing client already believes in the value of your product or service. They know your people and your service and they perceive value in what you have to offer. Review your marketing efforts aimed at your existing clients and their referrals. Call your clients. Ask them why they buy from you. Send thank you notes and emails and product announcements and electronic newsletters to let them know you appreciate their business and to prompt them to purchase again. Clients, like you, are incredibly busy. They need help from you and they need to be remained that they truly value your product or service. Don’t waste time, money, or energy marketing to new clients if you are ignoring your existing client base.

Step Four:  Develop Strategic Partnerships. Almost all small businesses are evaluating their success during this trying economic slowdown. Consider taking advantage of your common challenges by reframing them into marketing opportunities. With a renewed understanding of your clients needs, take this information and locate other complimentary businesses that service a common demographic. Offer to advertise with one another, reduce your search engine costs, offer to promote or do a trade show or sent mailers together. Their clients need your services and your clients need their products. Provide your clients with packages of products that solve problems, save time, and save money. The sandwich company Togo’s is opening locations that also house Baskin Robbins ice cream. Lunch and desert, together. Bridal shops and tanning spas. Limousine companies and Wedding planners. The possible combinations are endless. By joining forces, whether formally or simply on occasion, you can reduce your expenses and increase your sales.

Step Five:  Stay Focused.  So many great marketing efforts go to waste because businesses simply fail to stay focused. One idea is started, money and time are invested, time and effort are expended and then results are different than expected. Some marketing efforts are stopped because positive results are not immediately visible. Other marketing efforts are forgotten before enough mistakes are made to refine the process. Marketing mistakes are very valuable. Be successful in finding a strategy that does not work. (Selling a Chevy Nova in Spanish speaking countries…Nova means “No Go” in Spanish). Other marketing efforts are postponed because they are too successful. Sales were too high and created other problems for operations or manufacturing making it difficult to handle the volume. Regardless of the reason, target your efforts, stay focused and continue your marketing campaign. 

By applying these sales and marketing ideas, any small business can generate a renewed level of energy to focus on their successful marketing campaigns. Energy, combined with effective implementation will not only reverse the effects of an economic decline but may also significantly increase your overall sales revenue. And finally instead of reducing and firing your sales support, let it be known to your clients and competitors: “Wanted:  Account Executives to Handle Increasing Sales Volume”, apply within…

API Limousine
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Originally posted 2017-05-02 17:56:30.