Economically challenging times truly test the mettle of business owners. It’s easy to stay afloat when the contacts, leads and sales are rushing in at a precipitous rate, but tough times are when you really need to get organized. You need to cut costs as much as possible, but one area where you need to maintain some spending is in marketing.
It’s tempting to cut your marketing to the bone when sales are in a slump due to a slowdown in the economy or an outright recession. Unfortunately, this can be disastrous. Especially if you’re a service business dependent on your local market, you need to stay in front of past customers and clients, so they’ll remember you when the slump recovers and they’re searching once again for the services you offer. The following are a few good tips for doing this.
Use Social Media to Full Effect
It will be harder to close the sale during bad economic times. For this reason, you should write social media posts that are more focused on providing helpful advice to current or potential clients or customers. They should be helpful enough that they may use some of the advice, so it will keep you on their mind for when times turn around, and they need your services again. Social media marketing is excellent for potentially being able to generate an impressive return for little money put out, which is important during times of slow sales when your ad budget probably isn’t so great. If writing blog posts isn’t your thing, there are plenty of content writers and writing services online that need money as much as you do.
Reach out to Customers With Direct Mail
Direct mail seems downright primitive in our day and age where the internet seems to rule everything. Because of this, however, many of your competitors may not consider this route, which gives you a tremendous opportunity to grab people’s attention without a large number of competing mailing pieces.
Many people believe that digital marketing has a better return on investment than direct mail, but this is not necessarily the case. The response rate of direct mail has been found to be 10 to 30 times higher than that of digital marketing. There are companies, like Wise Pelican, that will help your business put together full-color postcards that make a professional impact on your contact list of leads and customers for a reasonable fee. You don’t have to push for the sale now in the mailing piece. Simply let them know you are still here and ready to help them whenever they need the goods or services you offer.
Reach out Through Community Events or Local Charities
If you run a business that primarily or completely caters to your local area, then you have a vested interest in the people and economic prosperity of that area. Whether you are a Realtor, plumber, dentist, lawyer, insurance agent, landscaper or other service business professional, you depend on your local community for clients or customers. Try getting the attention of that community by reaching out in various helpful ways.
There are plenty of ideas for community service. Frequently, these will involve coordinating with or helping out a local charity or a local chapter of a national charity in some way. Which one is best for you might depend on your type of business or simply what type of event or charity interests you. You may want to try:
- Sponsoring a charity race.
- Organizing an event or parade for a holiday.
- Helping register people to vote.
- Delivering gifts or meals to patients at a hospital.
- Holding a bake sale for a local charity.
- Helping your local Red Cross by raising money or organizing a blood drive.
Up Your Outreach With Care Packages
Too often, businesses stress acquiring new clients and customers but neglect the ones they already have. A care package to these people who have been supporting your business with their hard-earned dollars is a great way to rectify this neglect. We already mentioned direct mail, but this takes outreach to former and existing clients to a new level.
The first thing a care package will accomplish is setting you apart from and above the vast majority of companies selling similar services in your area. You can get creative as far as what you put in a care package. You will definitely want to include any branded merchandise you may have such as pens, caps or calendars that have your logo, brand or other company information on them.
Take This Time to Update Your Online Presence
In our digital age, your website is what gives people that critical first impression of your business. During bad economic times, there are fewer sales, which means you have more time on your hands. You should devote some of it to updating or completely redoing your website.
Most visitors will leave a website within 15 seconds. This is how long you have to grab and hold their attention. Does your website do this? Does it look visually compelling, and does it have engaging content that answers their questions and moves them along the sales funnel? Depending on the age of your website, you may either need to update it and refine the content or a complete redesign may be in order. The technology as well as best practices in web design change over time, so if you’re website’s over five years old, you’ll probably want to opt for a redesign.
Show Your Customers You’re Here for Them
Economic downturns are an occasional fact of life. If you own a business, you have to learn how to persevere through them. One critical factor in doing this is to continue to market your business through these tough times. Money may be tight, which can be a hindrance to accomplishing this. Still, whether you have to take out loans or take a side job, you need to keep letting people know you’re here and that you’ll still be here when things have picked up again.
The above methods should help you with this. Also, remember that other businesses will be having tough times as well. You may want to develop referrals with companies that serve the same types of customers that you do but offer distinct services from yours. For example, if you’re a Realtor, you may want to start a referral relationship with a landscaper or a plumber. This, and the above tips and techniques, should help you weather the bad times, so you can be poised for growth when things turn around and the phone starts ringing off the hook again.