Scan the headlines each day and you won’t have to get very far to stumble upon the word “recession” or its more palatable cousin “economic downturn.”
It’s times like these that send many small business owners on a quest for the magic recession-fighting marketing tip. Today, I would like to share my top seven quick-fix marketing strategies with the caveat that you understand nothing beats building a marketing system based on a narrowly defined ideal customer and core message of differentiation.
Being the practical guy I am, though, I also know that sometimes you need to hear about ways to start getting out of a hole before you can really listen to the message of long-term fix. The good news is that these seven strategies, applied effectively, can help you make your business recession-proof and unswayed by the various and inevitable cycles in the economy.
Take these seven tips and re-energize your marketing today.
1) Partner with other businesses - Proactively creating strategic partnerships is a great way to generate new leads and build long-term momentum. The trick is to do it ways that are win-win and simple for all parties. Number one rule, only seek marketing partnerships with organizations that you would have no problem referring your best customer to. Adhering to that logical rule alone will make this strategy more effective. Creating motivated strategic partners is simple if you can find a way to tap their self-interest. Take them an effective white paper or seminar idea and let them co-brand and co-sponsor it. That way they have a ready made and logical way to partner with you and you’ve done all the work.
2) Reactivate past customers - Where did I put that customer anyway? I know they are around here somewhere. Sad but true, sometimes we don’t bother to communicate with current customers unless they call with an order. By the time they have decided someone else appreciates their business more, it’s too late. Reach out to lapsed customers and make them an apology, promise to never ignore them again, and make them a smoking hot deal to come back.
3) Get out from behind the computer - Building personal relationships is always in style. It’s very tempting to sit and write blog posts and participate on social networking sites. And while these aren’t always bad things, sometimes you need to go out and shake some hands. Make it a point to go to several industry conferences every year. Join an industry or chamber type group and go to events where you can make connections with prospects and partners. Join a referral group such as BNI and participate. Go visit your customers and ask for referrals.
4) Speak at events, hold workshops - Marketing is essentially a trust-building game. Few things build trust more efficiently than getting in front of a group of potential customers and sharing your expertise in an educational setting. Go propose to conduct a hot sounding workshop for your bank, accounting firm, law firm and insurance firm. Check local libraries, chambers, and associations for opportunities. Look in your local business papers and see what groups have speakers listed in calendars of events. Get two of your best customers to help conduct peer2peer webinars to discuss best practices and issues with peers you invite.
5) Fix your follow-up - Lead generation and conversion is not a one shot deal. By automating your multiple follow-up messages, scheduling routine marketing touches and sending the occasional hand-written thank-you note, you can stay top of mind when the buying and referral decisions are made. The longer the sales cycle for your industry or service the better your follow-up needs to be. There is so much that technology can do for you here, let it!
6) Repackage your products and services with offers to act - This goes along with differentiating really, but sometimes you’ve got to give that tired old dog a new look. Find simple ways to relaunch yourself, your people, your products, your services, your packaging, to give yourself a new start in your market. You don’t need to start from scratch, look for innovative ways to repackage, reprice, redeliver, reguarantee and recommunicate about what you do. Make them an offer they can’t refuse, make it so bold they must rehear you.
7) Fix the marketing gaps - In every way, shape, and form that your business comes into contact with your prospects and customers it is performing a marketing function - good or bad. You must look at all of your customer touchpoints and turn them into positive, brand-building opportunities. Tear down the lead generation touches, sales touches, service touches, delivery touches, follow-up touches, transaction touches, and billing touches and make sure that every single one of them is a performing a killer marketing function for your business.
Maybe by now you’ve surmised that all of the items above are good for business, no matter the economy, it’s just that sometimes you need a fix or two to get restarted.