During a recession, most businesses will lose customers. Some will go out of business, some will be tempted away by hungry competitors, and those retained may simply spend less. While most companies respond – quite rightly – by cutting unnecessary costs, the key challenge is to replace lost customers as cost-effectively as possible. Here are a few proven ideas to help you find new customers and not only survive the recession, but flourish.
(1) Slash your advertising budget in half
Use the money you save to test some other simple forms of marketing. If you feel uncomfortable about stopping your advertising, just try cutting it in half and use that money for other marketing tests. Better yet, get on the phone to the media you advertise in and ask them to reduce the prices – in this economy they are really struggling and I can almost guarantee they’ll give you a substantial saving.
(2) Use the money you save to test new forms of Marketing and Internet Marketing.
Position yourself as an ‘expert’ in your field through PR and Publicity Any time your name appears in print, you are automatically considered an expert in the subject in question. People believe what they read in the papers, see on the TV and hear on the radio. It can be as simple as writing a small column in a local paper — most of these papers are crying out for quality content. They have little money to pay freelancers to write for them and might well welcome material from you. Offer your services!
If you don’t ask your customers to buy more from you, they’ll rarely come offering. You can build tremendous momentum with a sale if you keep offering add-ons and more “de-luxe” versions. Don’t just sell a sofa – sell it with a full carpet clean, and matching rugs.
(4) Go out and meet your top 20 customers
Don’t try to sell them anything, but do ask for referrals. Take them to lunch, or even just a coffee. This is a powerful strategy simply because in this modern and hectic world, no one seems to want to do it any more. If other people aren’t doing something, that’s a good enough reason for you to test it. And you’ll be surprised at how many order more from you immediately afterwards!
Go anywhere people in your target market or in synergistic businesses might hang out. You don’t have to pay to join a Breakfast club – there are lots of trade shows and events you can get in for free. The people at these events are there for the same reason you are: to do business.
(6) Become a Public Speaker
Any time you get up in front of an audience to speak about your business, you’re marketing. There are dozens of opportunities to speak to interested, qualified prospects all over the place.
(7) Improve your sales skills
There is an incredible amount of top quality, free information out there on sales. Books aren’t expensive, either, and you can get them from the library if you don’t want to buy them yourself. Knowledge is priceless, and it’s something no one can ever take away from you. Always be prepared to invest heavily in yourself. Becoming great at selling is absolutely fundamental for business success today.
(8) Never underestimate the power of emails
If you’re emailing your customers and clients less than once a week, you are definitely leaving money lying around unclaimed. Make it a habit to mail your list regularly with useful, topical content they can use. They’ll love you for it, and you will make more sales. Never miss an opportunity to collect email addresses – collect business cards!
(9) Look for suitable joint ventures
Look around you and you’ll see dozens of non-competing businesses whose customers are just like yours. For instance, imagine you are a business trainer. Now imagine you get local accountants to let you leave your paper newsletter or other marketing piece in their waiting room. Anyone waiting for their accountant has business on their mind and will be a prime target for your message. It works.
(10) Become an expert at Internet Marketing, particularly on Google
Internet marketing is the most powerful breakthrough in Marketing ever – yet very few small business owners truly understand its power.