Marketing in a recession: don’t just survive, thrive!

No matter what size your company is, chances are, you have felt the recession in one way or another. Consumer confidence is low, spending is weak, and there is no shortage of bad news being reported by the media. Although history has shown that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, it seems as though there is no end in sight. Your goal, as a business owner, is to remain profitable now and be ahead of the pack when the economy turns the corner.

A great way to thrive in a recession is to show your clients that you are offering them the best work available for a fair price. It will take patience, perseverance, and a staff of warriors to make sure you can keep food on the table.

A solid strategy will serve you well — helping you to navigate the murky waters of an economic recession. While devising your plan for the next year you should consider the following:

Don’t stop spending… even if it hurts.
Your competitors are likely feeling the crunch and may subsequently pull back on marketing budgets. This is actually the perfect time for you to turn the dial up to 11 and advertise even more aggressively. This makes a statement to your clients and competition that you are strong and here to stay. However, if you must cut spending, consider some less expensive alternatives such as a smaller media buy, direct marketing or radio. Social media, when done well, is also a powerful and cost effective tool to reach your audience and spread virally.

Refine your menu.
A recession is a perfect time to consider taking under-performing items off your business menu. Consumers are looking for the most bang for the buck, so focus on value, reliability, multi-purpose functionality and performance within your product lines. Make sure that you position your best performers to deliver what’s most important to your consumers.

Offer value while you maintain it.
Cutting prices across the board is not always the answer. It is best to maintain prices and uphold value in order to instill confidence and stability with your clients and prospects. However, offering quantity discounts or reduced fees for bundled services can entice your consumers while still keeping you profitable. Loyalty marketing can also be a successful strategy — consider extending your top clients a discount in order to stay competitive and at the top of their list. 

Sharing is good business.
Open up your rolodex and reach out to your existing clients and vendors for shared referrals. The pipeline you have worked so hard to build is a veritable gold mine for both you and your clients. It may be out of your comfort zone, but reaching out and asking for the warm referral is a great way to stir up new business. Feel strange asking for help? A fast way to get things rolling is to take the initiative and refer people to your clients and vendors first. These gestures often have a tendency to come back like a boomerang — so be ready to catch it! You may just find yourself with a healthy supply of new business with no out-of-pocket costs.

Knowledge is power.
Market research remains one of the most important tools in a recession and should be a portion of your marketing budget. In a rough economy, people tighten their belts, shop your proposal or products around, and negotiate harder than ever. Knowing who is buying what, and why, will help you tailor your offerings to meet the needs of more customers and increase your success rate.

Rally the troops.
Your sales team is the front line in the war of profitability. Hire the right people and your pockets will be lined with green. Bring in the wrong people, and you could be on the fast track to failure. Motivate your Rainmakers with aggressive incentives and the tools and flexibility that they crave. When your troops are properly
prepared and motivated, send them into battle and be ready for victory!

Talk it up.
Communication is an integral part of recession proofing your business. Internally, reassure your employees that you are strong and can weather this economic storm successfully. Externally, put a strong focus on customer service and positive interactions with both your existing customers and your prospects. When your lines of communication are open you are likely to adapt and grow together — ensuring long-lasting relationships across the board!

While some businesses seem to be backing in the shadow of our struggling economy, you have the opportunity to creatively adapt and thrive. Through some new, innovative practices, good business sense, and determination, your company can stake its claim in the marketplace and push right through the tough times.