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The economy sucks….so what?

The economy sucks….so what?

Sure, the economy is bad. Really bad. But business must continue. People still need things - they still want things - and they will still buy things. The smart companies don’t recoil and hope for the best, they adapt! So what are you doing?

Smart companies are finding ways to trim expenses and to attract new customers in this down economy. We’ve been advising and helping our clients to reevaluate marketing plans and redirect spending into cost-effective marketing options. Regrettably, some choose to radically curtail marketing, identifying it as an unnecessary expenditure. Yes, we try to talk them out of this. When the economy turns down, it’s not the time to stop marketing: it’s the time to either increase marketing (if you have a rainy-day fund) or to find new affordable marketing opportunities.

Let’s face it. When the market’s this bad, everyone is hurting in some manner. So if you’re feeling the pinch…so are your competitors. Now is your opportunity to gain market share by maintaining or increasing your efforts while they contract theirs. And if things are really bad, think creatively or rediscover those guerilla marketing strategies your company used when you were smaller.

Email campaigns

For years we’ve advised our clients to build relationships with customers, and during every transaction, “ask for their email.” Those that have listened to our advice now have a sizable database of opt-in emails - and they can use this to affordably stay in touch with their clients or to offer special incentives. For “free” or for mere pennies per email, they can reach out to existing customers or present strong offers to former customers to reactivate them. Every business has old customers that have either moved on or fallen out-of-touch. If you can reactivate even a small percentage, you’re ahead of the game.

Let’s get guerilla!

In today’s online connected world - there’s a plethora of opportunity to build business and attract customers with a modicum of investment. Depending on your product or service, you can grab a video camera and tape some tutorials - then use desktop software to edit your video - and post it to YouTube.com or other video sharing sights. Then you can email these video links to customers and prospects. Or think more viral. Hell, everyone has seen the site Will It Blend? It’s a tremendous viral site that demonstrates their product. Sure, every visitor may not be interested in a blender - but when they are…don’t you think BlendTec’s will be on the short list?

Or look to the social sites to build a rapport with your customers. Near real-time feedback can be attained through Twitter. Or scour the forums and opinion sites to discover followers of your company, product or service, and engage them. For one of our clients, we found a discussion forum that focused on their type of products. We suggested they contact the forum administrators to get the OK to present the forum participants with special offers. The idea was green-lighted and the customer built awareness of their product, and more importantly - they gained new repeat customers.

Use the internet to discover local events or shows you can participate in. Sure this may not be right for every company - but it’s a simple, easy to staff solution. Not the right fit? Then contact local media. You don’t need to enlist a full-fledged PR company (though it’s a good idea) - reach out to local papers or local news channels. Their contact information, phone number and emails are easy to source online - in fact, they want you to find them and contact them. Write up a one page “idea” and submit it to them. Have a new product? Reached a certain milestone, such as your one-millionth customer? Or are you hiring when everyone else is not? These can be good stories. Take 30 minutes out of your day to write an email or even pick up the phone and call - it can be that easy. And the only downside - OK…there’s no downside really, other than a few lost minutes.

Or hey…start a blog! You’ve always meant to…you know it’s the hip thing and you have so much to share but you’ve never had time….well make time. Do it after hours or add some time to your lunch and write a quick post. Sure, this may be a passive activity…but again, you can direct people to your blog, share its URL in your emails and outgoing collateral, and start to make in-roads on social aggregator sites such as Digg.com, Reddit.com, Mixx.com.

The most important thing, don’t stop.

As I mentioned further up. Don’t retract your marketing: or at least discover new ways to interact with your customers. But never stop thinking. There are tons of opportunities even in this downturn. There have been bad times before….and sadly, there will be bad times again someday. But if you stay focused and find the options that exist - or you think smartly and spend wisely - you can actually grow during this economy.

So let us know what your ideas are.

What are you doing to survive or suceed during this economic downturn? Share with us and others your strategies and ideas. If we all start doing better…then the economy as a whole will start to do better.

Mar 06, 2009
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