In challenging times like these, where there seems to be no dispute that the economy is in recession, and it is the the worst recession since the 1930s, with bad news all around, it can be pretty overwhelming and even paralyzing for entrepreneurs and business owners.
So, how to keep going in an environment like this? What are some things to do to build and grow a business even when things look and feel bad as bad as they do now? Here are three things to jump on:
1. Ramp up your marketing.
Many businesses try to economize as business starts to dry up in a slow-down by cutting back on their marketing budgets. This is a false economy: if customers are slowing down or dropping away, you need to work harder to find that “starving crowd,” as the late Gary Halbert called it, the people who are hungry for your products or services. Bottom line: Market more. Market better.
2. Bring back old customers for new sales.
Many businesses devote all their marketing energy to get a new customer to make a new sale. Don’t forget about the customers you already have. When you persuade a prospect to buy, you’ve overcome the toughest part – bridging the trust gap to make that sale.
With that gap bridged, go forth and, over time, make a second, a third, a fourth sale and more. This can work if you’ve treated your customers well and can do the creative business thinking needed to imagine and create new things or services your customer needs and wants.
I learned the following core concept from marketing maven Dan Kennedy: Don’t get a customer to make a sale; instead, make a sale to get a customer. Think long-term: That person who just bought your product or service for the first time it is, or should be just the beginning. Develop a relationship for life.
3. Make your marketing materials current and topical.
Talk about what’s on your customers’ minds: Before Valentines’ Day, steal their hearts, before St Patrick’s Day, go shamrock green; before Tax Day … you get the idea.
And, now, with our historically awful economy, with the financial and car company bailouts and the “stimulus package” on everyone’s mind, it’s probably a good idea to craft your message to address these huge issues.
For example, one enterprising seller of sex toys and dirty movies is running radio ads that tell listeners to “stimulate your package” with their sexy products.