Marketing your business during a slow economy...Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2011 | Posted by: Marketing in
During a slow economy, many small businesses tend to either hunker down and stop marketing altogether or they dive headfirst into an advertising frenzy that leverages every new marketing tool available. Much has been researched and written about the pitfalls of halting marketing efforts during an economic downturn. Just remember that the marketplace has a short memory and if you stop all marketing, your branding and key messages will soon be forgotten. Worst of all, when the economy recovers and you need to begin your marketing efforts again, you’ll probably be forced to start all over again right at square one where you began so many years ago. Keeping your brand alive with maintenance marketing is critical to your company’s health during a down economy. If you’re reading this blog the chances are good that you already know and practice this important tenant of marketing your small business.
However, very little has been written and discussed about the other side of the slow economy marketing coin: that frenzied, “do it all and hope for some traction” approach that I call schizophrenic marketing. Recent advances in technology and communication have created a virtual smorgasbord of advertising, branding and marketing opportunities. Just like the hungry child who has eyes too big for his stomach, ordering and trying to eat too many entrees from the new media marketing menu can leave your company with a massive stomach ache and big check to pay at best or at the worst, completely drained of available marketing dollars with little to show in real results (translation: new sales and revenue streams). Here are 5 things you can do to keep your advertising plans on track and avoid the pitfalls of schizophrenic marketing.
1. Control your expenses by setting a realistic quarterly marketing budget based on what’s possible during the down economy.
2. Do your homework by researching each new marketing opportunity. Remember, accurate stats can and will be skewed in order to create a false positive impression of an advertising opportunity. Talk to businesses who have tried it and get the real results.
3. Set reasonable, realizable goals. There are no magic marketing bullets or guaranteed winning formulas. For example, Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Mobile Marketing are red hot right now and companies are jumping on the bandwagon and spending dollars on social and mobile advertising programs without any thought to setting goals or forming a reasonable plan. The approach is “let’s go social and mobile now” and worry about planning later. This is a disaster in the making. Truth be told, social and mobile marketing really works. It can actually level the playing field for a small business, enabling David to once again slay the corporate Goliath.
4. Feed your website and online marketing program. Pull back on less effective traditional media like print and television. All you need to remember is that over 80 percent of the time, people go online first to research, discover and purchase. If you don’t believe this, read the latest research on mobile device usage showing that people are accessing the Internet on their mobile devices more and more frequently. Over half of smart phone users say “This is my life.” Think about this before you pour your limited marketing dollars into the next print advertising or direct mail campaign.
5. Build your online brand and extend it. Your website is your new corporate office or super store. How it looks, and how it feels and interacts with your clients and customers is critical to the future health of your business. Disappoint them with your web presence and you will drive them away instead of into your arms. Use email and social marketing to stay in touch, introduce them to your latest product or service, or to engage them in a dialog about your company and how to make it better. Some things in marketing never change. Your current customers are and always will be your best sales representatives, helping you create and keep new customers.
Marketing in this slow economy isn’t easy. It takes patience, planning and precise execution. However, for the smart business that works to position itself to takeoff as soon as the economy turns around, the potential rewards can be remarkable.
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