While 2022 witnessed record-breaking inflation rates, 2023 has made its mark already with historic bank failures. This has a lot of people feeling jittery and looking for safe places to put their money.
I too had a lot of questions on where I should invest in our wild economy — and many of you have reached out to me, asking me for my advice.
So, I wanted to share with you what my personal investment plan is:
My husband and I came to the same conclusion after meeting with a mentor of mine who has managed 100s of millions in capital over the last 25 years, and he made the observation that while we both have various investments, we’ve primarily been putting our money back into our own businesses over the years, and as a result, have achieved the highest ROI (likely due to the fact that we are both experts in our respective fields).
So wouldn’t it be prudent to continue investing back into our most reliable assets — our own businesses?
This year I am making a personal investment back in my own company, PostcardMania. I’m putting the investment money towards two things – MORE marketing as well as additional personnel and resources for two brand new products that we are developing.
I’ve realized that as a business owner, you likely have the upper hand in this current economic crisis. Your business is an appreciating asset, much like real estate, that has plenty of room for additional investment. Not only can it provide a return every year on your investment, but it can also be seen as a long-term asset that you can sell one day or pass down to a loved one.
So exactly how should you spend that money set aside to grow your business? That is key to determining how your investment will fare…
I can tell you upfront that you don’t want to spend it on superficial areas that won’t provide you with a return on your investment. For example, renovating your office might sound like a good idea, but that pretty Italian marble tile doesn’t have any life blood to drive customers through the door to walk on it and appreciate it!
I encourage you to budget for an increase in marketing if your goal is to grow your business, and in this blog post I’ll give you some ideas on exactly how you can do that effectively.
1. Learn from these past business successes and failures and come out on TOP while your competitors shrink
I’ll give you a quick rundown on how I learned this lesson. In 2008, we cut our marketing, and as a result, our incoming leads and revenue dropped for the first time in the history of PostcardMania. It was a stressful time, but it forged our resolve to never cut our marketing again.
Then when the pandemic crashed into 2020, were we scared? Yes. Did we lose money? Also yes. Sales were down 40% during the first few weeks. But did we cut our marketing? HECK NO.
We made it work. We renegotiated with our vendors, looted our reserves, and took on personal debt to keep the promise we made to ourselves in 2008 — never cut your marketing.
Our competitors, however, did pull out of their marketing and the result for us was the lowest cost per lead we had seen in years.
We also didn’t lay anyone off, and it was quite challenging to accomplish that.
The difference between 2008 and 2020 was obvious. We actually grew our business in 2020, and then it took off like a rocket in 2021. Since 2019, our revenue has been up 60% after a decade of averaging 5% growth.
Other companies throughout history have experienced the same rewards of marketing during a crashing economy too. Take Kellogg cereal for example — in the late 1920s, Kellogg and Post dominated the market for packaged cereal.
When the depression hit, Post reacted in fear and reduced expenses and cut back on advertising. Kellogg, on the other hand, did the opposite and doubled their ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising and heavily pushed a new cereal, Rice Krispies. By 1933, the economy crashed, but Kellogg’s profits rose 33% and became what it remains today: the cereal industry’s biggest brand.
My hope is that you don’t end up being crippled by fear and miss out on the potential to strengthen your business and make it more successful than ever.
There will always be a fraction of risk involved, but that’s why I do what do. I want to reduce that risk for you by providing tested and proven marketing methods that will deliver that high return on investment you are looking for.
2. Take this time to do to a marketing deep dive and come out exponentially ahead of your competition
Take this as an opportunity to dive-in deeper with your marketing and get smarter than you ever have on which tools you invest in.
My secret, which really isn’t a secret anymore, is Website to Mailbox, or what we call triggered retargeting mailings.
It works by sending a postcard to anonymous website visitors just 24 hours after they visit your website. This can potentially equate to 700-10,000% ROI because you are mailing to such qualified prospects…and believe me I’ve seen it happen!
Here’s one example…
One of our real estate clients, Mark Buys Houses, tried Website to Mailbox and he spent $647 to mail postcards to his website visitors. As a result, he converted one response to a new customer and made $70,000 in revenue, which is an ROI of 10,710%!
He made all the money he spent on his marketing back and WAY more than he anticipated.
If you want to stick to a specific budget and avoid over-spending, you can even set monthly limits, such as no more than 100 postcards a month. You can also only target visitors to certain pages on your site, visitors in certain geographical areas and more.
Consider this: only 4% of website visitors are ready to make a purchase per Marketo. Many prospects are visiting multiple websites before they make a purchasing decision. By putting a physical postcard in their hands you can increase your business’ credibility by 49%. A postcard is the perfect nudge to push a prospect closer to a buyig decision, especially if there’s a tempting offer on the card, such as a discount or free item with purchase.
You can also automate your mailings based on your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system so that new leads, new customers or whoever you setup automatically receive postcards. Your team member just added a new prospect into the CRM yesterday? They already have a “nice to meet you” postcard on the way. Or maybe it’s a customer who bought one time months ago and needs a reminder to come back; a postcard can be automatically mailed to them once 3 months hits.
You get to determine who gets a postcard and when based on qualifying factors. This means you don’t waste any time on people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, and you’re also making the most of your money by putting your brand in front of the right eyes.
You can learn more about how to automate mail and connect to a CRM through our free Zapier integration.
So what else can you do besides these more targeted mailings? I recommend these strategies that are either low in cost or free. Here are some ideas:
- Add live chat to your website – Having a customer service agent available on your website is extremely valuable. You’ve already done the hard part of getting them to your website, so why not spend a little more to help close the deal? Website visitors are more likely to engage with you, ask questions, and make purchases when they know a human is at their fingertips to reach out and talk to. No one likes robots; give your customers that personal touch by having a team member available to meet their needs. Check out Tidio or Zendesk, they both have apps so that the chats can come directly to your phone.
- Test out different offers – Everyone loves a deal, and people need them now more than ever because of inflation, so make sure you have coupons, discount codes, or free offers in your direct mail, emails, and other marketing channels to drive up sales. Test different offers to see which ones works best, then stick with the one that is most successful. I’ve done this a number of times at PostcardMania to find the most enticing deal that leads to conversion.
- Lead capture form – The best way to establish a follow-up funnel is to get your prospects’ contact information when they contact your or visit your website. Install a pop-up lead capture form on your website’s home page so the form is accessible to them. An offer like a free guide or coupon code in exchange for their email and/or address will also encourage more people to fill out the form. Then using their contact information, you can launch your follow-up funnel via email, direct mail and more.
If you need help formulating messaging to subscribers or website visitors, try out ChatGPT. It’s a new language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations with the chatbot. It can assist you with composing emails and even writing newsletters or blog posts — something many business owners look at with dread. But ChatGPT will do all the heavy lifting (aka writing) for you.
All you have to do is create a free account and provide some prompts. It will give you something to work with and then you can add the finishing touches to make it yours.
3. Utilize Free Tools to Continue Communicating with Your Current Customers
In some cases, you don’t have to spend a dime on marketing. There are free alternatives available that will help you market your brand during tough times.
First, I suggest focusing on increasing and perfecting your email marketing. Emailing your customers and prospects is just about free and will help you remain both prominent and relevant in your industry.
You can send out your usual promotional emails that include a great deal, but also consider writing an email newsletter about your industry’s trends, tips and tricks and other valuable or interesting information people may want to know about.
You can even record short videos and see how they compare to text-based emails. Don’t worry about spending money on a video that looks polished; with the current trends on TikTok, more people value authenticity and like watching real people in real settings giving out useful information.
You’ll need to find a sweet spot in frequency. Sending out too many emails could lead to unsubscribes whereas too little could lead your brand to becoming a total afterthought. It’s kind of like dating a new person — you want to stay in front of them enough so that they get to know you and like you, but not so much that they have to block you.
Another idea is to freshen up your website with new content. Write blogs, or find a team member who is good at writing, and publish them as often as you can. People are consuming more content than ever online and blog posts also help you SEO performance on Google.
ChatGPT can really be your best friend here. Let the bot do most of the work, and you can just polish it off, make sure it’s accurate and reflects your business.
Lastly, get more active on social media. Focus on creative, informative content that draws people in and fosters customer loyalty. You can also list your products and services for free on Facebook and Instagram too. Create a shop page, and people will be able to purchase your offerings right on these social media platforms.
Bottom line: posting free content can be an incredible communication tool, and even though it may take some extra elbow grease and time, you can push out new content in a variety of places that prospects and customers alike will appreciate.
Remember, the biggest takeaway is:
NEVER stop marketing.
By doing the suggestions I’ve outlined above, you’ll see immediate results AND you’ll continue to reap all the benefits when this crisis is over.
If there’s anything we don’t want you to do, it’s stop marketing! To help keep you going, we are offering up to 10% off any marketing campaign you start with us. Launching an Everywhere Small Business campaign that couples direct mail with digital ads will help you bring in leads and drive-up revenue.
To get started and claim this offer, connect with one of our expert marketing consultants at 1-800-628-1804. They will be able to tailor a marketing strategy that fits your needs and your budget.
Or, you can always email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Feel free to email us anytime, or you can meet with me in person at our upcoming Small Business Owner’s Growth Summit.