Whenever the economy is slow, many businesses go into a conservative mode. They carefully conserve their resources, trim their marketing budget, and wait for the economy to recover and customers to return.
What's often overlooked for the small business is that such a downtime is a perfect time to actually kick marketing into high gear. After all, if business is slow and things are in lockdown mode, you (and your employees) will likely have more time on your hands.
Use that time effectively.
There's no better time than lockdown time to kick start a very personal marketing campaign. You don't need a big budget for this or an enormous outlay of cash. You need time - and when your business is running slow, time is one thing you have.
Spend some time thinking about your brand. Yes, there are tons of people out there who talk about branding and how important it is and lots of other things. There's really only one thing you need to think about when you think about branding: what does the customer think of when they think of your business?
You probably know what you want them to think, but is that message coming across? Spend some time looking at every aspect of your business that the customer sees, from the cleanliness of the office to the letterhead to the dress code of the employees. Are all of these things reflective of the message you're trying to get across.
In most small businesses, there are lots of little tweaks that can be made with a few hours of free time that can completely change the impression and message a customer gets when they walk in the front door. A good cleaning, a better dress code, and stationery that more directly reflects the core message of your business can make all the difference in the world in terms of what customers think.
Get in touch with older customers. Make a personal phone call or send them a personal email. Don't worry about making a sale. Just ask how the product they bought from you is doing and if they have any additional needs that you can fulfill.
Open your doors wider. Have an open house. Offer a simple free service to anyone who stops in if such a service is compatible with your business. Offer free laptop tune-ups if you run a computer shop. Offer free tire inflation and a fluid level check if you run an auto shop. The key is to get people into your business and aware of what you offer so they think of you when good business returns.
Go to where the people are. Now's the perfect time to get involved in community groups that might overlap what your business has to offer. If your business is of general use, get involved with general community activities, like sports boosters and the like. Wear your company's shirt when you do these things and answer any questions that come your way, but remember that by supporting the community while you're there, you're putting a very great light on your business.
Interact with the customers you have. Spend more time with them to let them know their business is important to you. Find out if they have any concerns or complaints with what you provide and do what you can to correct it.