Remember the bumper stickers back in the nineties that said "Kill Your Television"?
Well, based on all the over simplified economic news coming from the major networks, the financial networks and radio too-it's something to consider again. No doubt, when the challenges of the current economy are studied in history, a major factor driving the psychology of the event will be the media.
There's one problem with "mass media", sweeping generalizations. The broad brush-the it's everywhere approach-lacks specifics for each of our own backyards.
The result is that a lot of business owners experiencing a slowdown just say it's the economy. Newsflash, there are companies that make millions of dollars in bad times. So, it can be done. Here's how:
1. Focus on Your World
The news is a sweeping generalization and has no problem letting us think this is the way of the world. Take a hard look at the reality of your situation:
- Are you still in business?
- Are you in foreclosure or in danger of getting there?
- Do you work in a failed bank or investment firm?
- Is your industry of field lined up for a bailout?
If not, pay attention to what's affecting you – not what the media says is affecting us. Do you work. Reposition your produces and services to meet your customers changing needs. Do not sit on your hands and blame the economy.
2. Protect Existing Customers / Clients
When was the last time you communicated with them without trying to sell them something? Bad idea if it's been longer than a few weeks. Get a newsletter or ezine going now and a minimum of monthly. Figure our ways you can start right now to show them how you appreciate them. Show them you solve their problems and do not be a source of their worries or fears. Even better, start making them some great offers the boosts value so they continue to spend money with your business.
3. Install or Crank Up Referral Programs
New marketing is expensive and referrals are far easier and cheaper to get. Your customers are like seeds in an apple. You can focus on how many seeds are in the apple. Getting referrals is focusing on how many apples are in a seed. If your clients like you, then you're good for the people they like. Make that point clear and get referrals – now!
4. Know Who Buys What
N ot all of your customers or clients buy everything you have to offer. Start breaking down your list to who buys what. Now you can sell what they want easier, identify and right buyer for new business. Then create campaigns to cross sell to your client base. No time? List companies can do it for you. Does it work? Well, there has to be a reason Head & Shoulders has 9 different shampoos.
5. Fix Your Customer Service
When business was for the taking, customer service was not very important. Now, a lax customer service is the room where your competitors will drive a wedge between you and your profits (or survival). Conduct a top to bottom review of all the points anyone in your company comes in contact with a customer. Are complaints resolved quickly? Do people show up on time for appointment? Are things ready with a client wants them? Better be 100% sure. .
6. Multiple Marketing Campaigns
I've kicked up the sales volume for many a client who they thought what they were doing was enough. After looking at the numbers and facts, they actually had a capacity to do a lot more marketing. Dan Kennedy says, "The most dangerous number is 1." So if you only have one way to market; what happens when you business slows down? Right, blame the economy because MSNBC says so. Same goes for referral programs – having and executing only one does not cut in today's business environment.
7. Joint Ventures
Have you ever considered a JV with any business that has customers who fit the same profile as your ideal customers? If you're a professional I'll wager there are other businesses in your building that would make excellent JV partners. JVs are like making a sale; you have to ask to get one. Look, after referrals this should be the next avenue you use for new business in 2009.
8. Use Off line Marketing
It's ironic to recommend that strategy in an ezine article. Online marketing is big and getting bigger. The total RSS feeds, ezines, blogs and landing pages will double in 2008 and do so again in 2009. The number is even larger for emails. That makes older media more attractive because there's less competition. Direct mail, display ads, inserts, post cards and printed newsletters – when done right produce very profitable results. Do not give up on an older media just because a new one comes along. Think of ways to go "Old School"
9. Tie In Promotions
Just tying your promotions to the national holidays gives you eleven additional campaigns in 2009. Use any or all of the manufactured events like Mother's Day, Father's Day, the vernal equinox or summer solstice and you got more than any competitor can think of in a year . Get thee a marketing calendar and start making plans. Of course, you can make up your own reasons for a promotion. If the economy seems crazy, they go crazy yourself.
10. Give More Away
Put the Law of Reciprocity to work for you. Send gifts in the mail, free samples, sweeten offers with bonuses and free stuff. Too expensive you say? Information costs you nothing to give away. Bonus reports and "how to" information goes a long way. Want a great lesson on how to do this? Donate to a charity with a lot of marketing savvy. I recommend the DAV and Covenant House. You'll help a good cause and get a graduate level education on how to use free stuff. Remember donate to charities you believe in and support.
Any turn down in the economy does not last forever. The trick is to make sure your business can outlast the cycle. Turn off the TV and get to work. Give your competition something more to worry about than a bad economy-you.