While the politicians and bureaucrats debate about the words to describe our economy, the reality for most people and small business man is that things are tough. As a result, people are changing their buying behaviour and perceptions whereas many small businesses are hurting.
Psychological Threat | Psychologically, during periods of slow down and threat, people circle the wagons, bring their attention closer to family and home events, and repelling outsiders. During tough times, people spend on things to beautify their home and gardening, build their family values, and invest in the future. They save their money for a tough rainy day, and use windfalls, such as tax refund in flows, to pay down their debt rather than squander away on consumer items.
These are the trends that businesses need to understand and reflect in their marketing tactics during the tough times. Remember, money is still being spent by them … only difference, it is just being spent differently.
Small Business—Opportunity or Threat? | Let’s start with two stories from two different service industry businesses.
Business is a shock absorber – if it keeps up, We don’t know what we will do. We will have to stop our marketing as we need to cut costs.”
“The economic downturn has been the best thing for any business ever. We have so many new opportunities arising — people need us more than ever to help them find their business edge over this unavoidable situation. We will have to tweak all of our marketing to help people feel confident again — can we rehabilitate and get it out the yesterday?”
Identical industries — identical issues — different perspectives.
During tough times, the worst thing anyone can do is to reduce their marketing efforts. This conveys people that you are giving up and you don’t think your product or service is really worth the price you are asking for it.
If you are assured in the value you offer, economic downturns can be where the germination of seeds of prosperity and success are sown. Most of the world’s largest companies started their success from the Depression.
Recession we had to have | Recessions are not a barrier to success. According to the research conducted McKinsey on past recessions and came up with interesting data. The companies that represent as strongest – 83% increased their investment in their people during economic slow down, while for those that came out infirm, only 21% increased their investment in their people. What does that mean? Well – if you were a venturing person you would look at the odds and believe there was a better chance to thrive and grow if you invested in your team than if you didn’t.
They found that companies that did better in economic slowdown, outdid their peers on capital expenditure, R&D, hiring good staff and buying assets as well as acquiring competitors businesses.
The encouraging fact is that, successful companies did all of these things with a great strategic goal in mind. They didn’t just repeat what they had done before – they looked at their new possibilities as well as things they could reasonably forecast and took a strategic view of investing their resources.
Many businesses read the activity list of what to do and then just throw financial funding at it. Intelligent businesses look at the list of what to do and then stop to work out what will work best for them, in the respective industry, with their conditions, with their organisational and leadership team.
Things to Remember When Marketing your business
Build your trustworthiness | In tough times, you need to strengthen your credibility in the market before your target group, so they will trust you enough to spend with you.
You need to be inside their mind, not outside. This means you need to strengthen your social presence that you are trustworthy and have a great product. Get all those testimonials you have been meaning to get. Include testimony on your site and your marketing collaterals to ensure people know you have a proven successful track record.
Be a face to your marketing | When the economy is static, people want more than ever to know and trust the person they will work with. Get out there, interact people, and form strong business bonds with them. Don’t hide away in your office. Be active on social platforms and personally demonstrate your capabilities.
Showcase value for money | During tough times, people need a powerful reason to spend their money. They need a bigger emotional “why,” backed up by reasons as to how this purchase supports their values or perceived needs. If your sales are depressed, you are not showcasing enough potential value to customers.
Start by reviewing your marketing collaterals and graphics to ensure you are articulating the true value that you add to clients bucket.
Then think about add-on products or related services with a low cost to you, but have a high perceived value. Include discount coupons or schemes and offers with other related businesses to yours in your local area.
Ask your clients:
- what perceived value they believe you added to their business and
- what other valued goods or services they would have liked to see you add.
Often your clients will give you your best feeds in terms of things you did that they felt added value to their business – things you didn’t realise were important.
Test your connect | The old ways are no longer working for many traditional businesses. You do need to monitor your statistics for each campaign – if a brochure, flyer or ad isn’t getting you the results you were looking for then modify it and explore different tools and strategies such as ads on social media platform, e-mailers rather than traditional print media spending, as it is high in cost even. You still should be getting a strong return on investment for each campaign you launch. Even in tough times, campaigns need to show a good ROI.
Dust off your relations | Your previous clients have trust in you and all know your services and offerings. Make sure you go back and touch base with all previous clients which will give emotional strength to them(even the ones you haven’t spoken with in some time). These people are more willing to buy from you than new customers – so treat them like serving a feast to them.
Revisit your guarantee | As most of the customers are your old clients, so you can offer themextended guarantees for your goods or services you offer. Instead of 30-day money back guarantee make it an offer that will create a bonding (Existing repeat customers will get additional 30 days or 60 days extended guarantee or you can club with some other service offers).
Stay optimist | If you think the sky will get red – it will. If you think you will get diamond – you will be. Find positive, like-minded, empowered people and hang out with them. Don’t stay too long with pessimist, as they will drag you down into their dark space.
Command your communication | This is the time to increase your personalised communication to customers – not reduce it. Keep it informative, credible, and up beat to build a strong relation. Don’t get excited to fall into doom and gloom for your headlines or marketing messages.
Upgrade your website or microsite | During the tough time, people will spend more time researching and comparing the information available in this market before investing or buying. Make sure your website is information rich, is mobile friendly, having quick call to action on the top and off-course has been optimised for search engines, and is easy to navigate.
It’s time to upgrade your website or refresh it!
About the Author | Saurabh Sharma- Enterprising professional with over 18+ years of Industry experience in the field of Advertising both at National & International level. Founder of OnPoint Management Consulting and President at Goldmine Advertising Ltd. He has an expertise in handling number of election campaigns across different political parties along with several IEC & rural campaigns for state and central government projects funded by World Bank. He is also a visiting faculty with some management schools for Marketing & Advertising Practices .
Views are personal.