Marketing in a Recession: A New Perspective
It's known that the economy has taken a hit, so let's not belabor that point. I've been saying that it is time to quit buying into the doom and gloom and get on the ball with promotion. The reason is simple. Those that continue to promote during slow economic times are the ones that will win out in the end.
The renowned advertising guru Ogilvy said it best when he cited American Press studies in his book Ogilvy on Advertising, showing select companies over the last 6 recessions that had cut their marketing budget – in each case, they suffered lowered sales and net income several years after.
Those businesses that continue to promote will pick up all the customers and prospects from their competition that has cut their marketing.
You need to look for opportunities that are going to help you further your business – my mother always said that when one door closes, another opens. That's the viewpoint you have to assume. It works when you do. You have to look for an open door.
Take the mortgage industry, for instance. That is not the best industry to be in these days – they've taken the hardest hit. But there are still opportunities that if taken advantage of will help them stay afloat, such as the new FHA temporary loan limits made effective on March 6, 2008 from $271,050 to $729,750 which will give nearly 240,000 additional homeowners and homebuyers a safer, more affordable mortgage alternative.
That news is worth repeating. Mortgage brokers can promote this news from the rooftops and get the word out to their existing customer base and prospects. There are people that need their help – potentially 240,000 of them.
I have die-hard promoters as clients that never stop promoting despite any crash… one is tripling his promotion. Another big customer (and one of the reasons he's “big” is because he markets no matter what) is adding on a second mailing campaign.
If you want to buck this slump, you will have to buckle down, work harder, get smarter and continue to promote.
I've got 7 tips for you. Be wise. Use them.
- Market like crazy – pick up the customers your competitors will lose by cutting their marketing budgets;
- Look for terms where you can pay for your marketing when your income starts rolling in – this staves off the bite of having to spend money before the sales come in;
- Make better use of your own database – marketing for new customers is expensive but marketing to your existing customers has a higher return on investment. So step up your marketing to your existing customer base;
- Don't “agree” – don't buy into the fact that you can't control your business's outcome.
- Stop messing around – quit doing defeatist-type actions that keep you in the mud… like saying “it's no use anyway,” or not getting on the horn and doing everything you can possibly do to improve your business.
You know what you should be doing, you know which employees are not pulling their own weight, and you know what activities will improve your customer service – so do them! No excuses.
I will give you a real-life example. I always considered it to be a bit tacky to proselytize for my own business in social gatherings or at fundraisers or any kind of event, really. I have my marketing and sales set up so I really didn't need to utilize those contacts or events. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn't always figuring out how to turn everything I did into a networking affair. When someone approached me and asked me to help them, of course I would but I didn't seek these opportunities out. However, I've had a change in viewpoint. I have a fairly large staff and their livelihood rests on my shoulders. I simply made the decision that it was time to talk it up and use the contacts I have to bring in orders. This is a major change for me. It's actually going really well! I'm not even doing anything different really- I mainly just stopped resisting it and making the decision has created all kinds of interest toward me for my services, by business people I know. It's actually kind of bizarre, but exciting!
- Cut out waste – there's an old saying from John Wanamaker that “I waste half my marketing budget, I just don't know which half.” If you improve your tracking methods you can get more out of your marketing dollars. At my company we are already total analytics nerds, but we're even getting more persnickety and digging deeper to understand more. Say you have two different ways that you advertise – you promote in the newspaper and send out postcards. You get a bunch of calls and you think “Wow, my advertising is really working.” You spend $10K a month and you make $50K off that, but you do not know which avenue is producing more. The more precise you get, the higher the return on investment you will get. Then you can increase your marketing budget to the channel that is getting you the most ROI and ditch (or at least lower) the other. Modernizing your marketing will help you stay afloat in a recession.
- Make sure your customer service is at its all time high by solidifying your core personnel. Get the eternal slackers slacking somewhere else. And make sure your entire team is on the bandwagon to beat this slump.
Remember. You can make a difference in your business. And by doing that your business can make a difference in the recession. And if enough companies do this we can make a difference in the economy.