One of the main dangers in the current economic climate for small businesses is self-paralysing fear. Many businesses will lose sales over the next year, but many others will see the recession as a sales opportunity. Here are five proactive ideas to help use marketing to your advantage.
Fix your customers’ problems:
When you hear a problem, you’re actually hearing an opportunity. When people moan about something they are signalling that they fed up with the old way and are open to a new solution. “I’m sick of the price of petrol” says a motorist, really meaning they are ready to look at LPG or hydrogen devices. “Why can’t they deliver more quickly” tells you your customers will pay a little extra to get it couriered overnight. So listen to what your customers are saying and then do it! Don’t be afraid to change your business to give customers exactly what they want, because that’s what business is all about.
Out your competitors:
This is nothing to do with their sexuality. But it is to do with how well they perform. If their service is fantastic, you need to out-service them. If they have good prices, how can you out-price them? Beat your competitors on every aspect of business and you will attract more customers.
Woody Allen said that “80 per cent of success is showing up”. And how true is that? The people who get the business are the ones who go to the shows, the networking events, the forums, the dinners, the voluntary groups, the award ceremonies. Yes people look at many aspects of a business or product before they buy, especially price. But ultimately people buy from people. And that means people they know. Turning up doesn’t just have to mean going places. You can “turn up” without leaving your home or office – return phone calls and emails quickly and enthusiastically, send useful information to contacts, be there for people. Expect nothing back in return and it will pay off for you down the line.
Keep in touch:
This is the worst possible time to stop communicating with customers and prospects – you should actually be communicating more! If your business is going through some kind of slowdown then use the spare time and resource to send more newsletters, more press releases, make more phone calls to contacts and referrers. Ring suppliers to see how well their business is doing and confirm they continue to be vital to you, even though you are ordering less. Get more promotional work done, send more leaflets. Marketing has a lag – the work you do today can take a while to pay off. This is why it’s important not to stop marketing when business is good, or you risk entering into a cycle of boom and bust.
Stand up and stand out:
A slowdown is a great time to let your personality loose and really enjoy the way you sell your business. If you can ensure your business really stands out and sticks in people’s minds, then you are more likely to be the one they turn to when they have made a decision to buy. Look at the marketing your competitors do. Is it stuffy, formal maybe? Then do the opposite. Be the zany crazy choice. If your competitors already do this, then position your business as a safe pair of hands. The key is to provoke an emotional reaction in a customer or prospect. If you can make them laugh or cry, you’ve got them.