Sometimes it’s best not to trust your instincts when it comes to marketing, especially if your views are shortsighted. One sure fired way to go out of business is to act like you already are—by ceasing to communicate to your target via marketing efforts, events, articles, etc.
Let’s say for instance, we instructed you to think and act in the opposite direction of your gut? That is if your gut is telling you to hibernate and come out when you sniff the first hint of blooming business. If you’re a business owner, stop for a moment and think like your customer base. Or it might be more fitting to suggest that you think of the things you would like if you were a loyal, or even wayward customer. As we’ve mentioned in past Free Ad Candy entries, handshakes and handwork are making a comeback during this technically-driven, virtual age. It’s still considered good manners to send a handwritten note to a client. Or forward articles or tidbits of good advice you think they might find useful—like this Free Ad Candy, for example. Don’t worry. Just do something. Improvise. Get creative. Run with scissors. No, of course we’re kidding.
Run, don’t hide—keep your face out there. Both your marketing messages and your actual face. Network. Attend functions. Make calls. Reach out. Spread your word (and do it with joy—start by using terms like “Glee-conomy” instead of “Gloom-onomics”). Peddle your wares. Remind people you’re still doing business—and you’d like to be doing it for them. Maybe even at a discounted price. Maybe you’ll run into someone you can partner with on a project or event—and do a little bit more together instead of doing nothing alone.
Keep your messages moving through the marketplace and more likely than not, you will still have a place in the market. Perhaps your ad spend is smaller—just like some people’s shopping lists—but people are still buying products and engaging in both required and recreational products and services. Stay in their minds so they don’t wander somewhere else, like to your competitors’. Find out what matters most to your consumer and you might just discover a way to become relevant and necessary. If it’s poop you see, find a way to be toilet paper (or a pooper scooper…foreshadowing alert). Or garbage, be a trash bag. Murky waters, become a filtration system.
As business owners and consumers are adjusting, so are the employees, households and schedules. For example, let’s take Leslie, a stay-at-home mother of two small children, whose husband owns a business that he works very hard to keep running better and better. Often working into the late hours creating new opportunities for his shop and staff so they may all stick around during such tough times, Leslie’s husband doesn’t keep a nine-to-five schedule. Similarly, Leslie’s neighbors and friends’ neighbors have also taken to staying late, picking up extra shifts or even part-time jobs. All of this creative energy and busying oneself left something to be desired…for the pets, mail and plants of these uninhabited homes. Suffice it to say, Leslie found a way to capitalize on peoples’ needs during these stressful times by filling their pet sitting needs.
Take a lead from Leslie, adjust your offerings. Or even lower prices. Be flexible in what you’re willing to deliver and how you deliver it. But overall, keep your promises and you will keep your loyal customers. Everyone is making adjustments in an effort to survive—cutting back here, investigating alternatives over there—your business’s marketing, offerings, products and services need to follow suit (or better yet, be the one setting the example). Think about the cell phone—fifteen years ago, not many people had one—but today, everyone has a cell phone, a cell phone charger (for the house, the car, the airport), a cell phone case, clip and docking station, cleaning wipes, ring tones and rhinestones. More so, as the cell phone is a communication mechanism, there’s residual income to be made—be it two-year contracts, rollover minutes, family plans or pay-per-minute use. There are à la carte plans with texting, international calling, email, you name it. How can you go à la carte? Like Newton’s third law of motion, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If someone puts their hand out with a need to be filled, find a way to put something of value in said hand. Chances are they’ll reach out to you again and again. Listen carefully—can you hear your opportunity calling?
Listen what’s not being said. If all you think you’re hearing is doom and gloom, you might find yourself in the midst of a self-fulfilling prophesy. There are many ways to survive and prosper in a recession. Just like in a natural disaster or depression. You need to sharpen your intuition skills—because dumb luck is unlikely. If you started your own business, most likely you have what it takes to write the script of a pilot that can get picked up by the collective network and become a hit. Get out there and find out what the customers need now to survive. Think of an idea with legs—like our pet sitter mentioned above.
Take time to make future plans. Catch up on what’s been set aside for a slow, rainy day. Clean out the closet, recycle an idea, follow up with old customers, adjust your business plan, teach a class or take a class. Once things turn around, you’ll be ready to put your new plan of attack in motion. Write articles, write blogs, get people together for panel discussions or product & service exchanges. Working out a trade agreement can work—for complementary businesses. Keep things moving and business will gravitate toward you—especially if you stay positive. Attitude can play a big part in keeping customers. No one wants to be near the negative energy in any room—particularly if it’s their free will and money we’re talking about.
Repeat your own past effective behaviors, as well as some of the greats who survived bad times—you know, when things were really bad—like when disease, plague, war and famine were real, everyday fears, before global marketplaces, the Internet, free delivery and free will. Somehow we all made it to this point—with lots of advancements in technology, science, medicine, politics and the way we advertise the newfangled things we have to offer. How can you be the next advancement in a way of thinking, doing or buying?
So, to recap, we suggest you stay your own course or find a new one you can tread during such times. Don’t let your marketing efforts go dark overnight, as advertising doesn’t work one day after it hits the marketplace. Adjust both your way of thinking and the wares you offer. Think about what your customers really want and need now—find a way to deliver it—and you’ll still have customers to serve and a business to run. Stay connected, network and keep the lines of communication open with prospective business partners and customers.
Keep forging ahead and blaze new trails. Remember, don’t stop your advertising, public relations and marketing efforts—or you’ll essentially be stepping aside and allowing your competition to play through with your caddy, your clubs and your lucky ball. So, keep playing ball. We will bounce back.