Businesses that plan to survive long-term need to be ready for difficult times. Whether you’re facing a momentary dip in sales or a full-blown recession, you have to devise strategies to keep your business in front of people. While your first instinct may be to cut back on your outreach at this time, this is the worst option. It’s understandable that money will be tighter during a recession, so you should use a variety of promotional methods that incorporate some lower-cost ones.
Tough economic times can fall particularly hard on local service businesses. If you’re a Realtor, dentist, landscaper, plumber, dry cleaner, HVAC business or any other company dependent on your local market for survival, there are things you can do to stay on peoples’ minds. The following are a few good suggestions.
- Take Full Advantage of Social Media
During tough times, there are fewer customers to serve. This gives you more time to work on doing things to attract more customers. You can write blog posts and upload them to your social media channels. If writing is not your thing, you can contract the work out quite inexpensively. There’s always the chance that they may go viral, which will really supercharge your visibility. Even if they don’t though, it’s still inexpensive outreach that will get some notice.
- Send Care Packages to Previous Clients
If you’re experiencing tough times, chances are some of your former clients or customers are not much better off. Show them that you care with a thoughtful gift package. You could put toiletries in it or coffee and tea blends or anything else you can think of that would be appreciated. If you have any branded promotional merchandise, such as pens, hats or calendars with your company name on them, you’ll definitely want to include some of that. Very few businesses that your clients or customers have transacted with will do something like this, which only serves to make you stick out even more. When these tough economic times turn around, and they need a Realtor, dentist, plumber or landscaper, chances are they’ll remember this gesture.
- Direct Mail
So much emphasis is put on digital marketing today that people receive far fewer promotional pieces in the mail. Compare this to a couple of decades ago and earlier where direct mail was one of the few games in town to directly reach out to previous and potential customers. Perhaps because fewer companies use this marketing approach, it tends to get the recipient’s undivided attention better than online advertising where there’s a world of ads and websites to distract them away from yours. In fact, direct mail has been shown to deliver higher ROI than paid search or online display ads.
When you are trying to stay foremost on the minds of your previous clients, try sending them a postcard. There are companies that can help you put together a glossy, professional postcard that will stick out and get attention. Also, postcards require less postage to mail than a first-class mailing piece. In a recession, the recipients may not have the money to hire your services again right now. For this reason, you may want to have a message on it that lets them know you are still here and ready to help whenever they do need your services again. Additionally, if they have a friend who can use your services now, you may get an immediate referral out of this strategy.
- Revamp Your Website and SEO Strategies
As with social media and blog posts, you can also put the time available from a dip in sales to good use in other areas of online marketing. Could your website use a new look or a more modern, user-friendly interface and navigational structure? Are its coding and content fully optimized for SEO? Does its content drive sales? If your answer was not a resounding yes to all of these questions, then take the time to get it right. Depending on your balance of time versus money available and your skillset in things such as SEO and content writing, you can either handle it yourself or contract out the work. Particularly if your website is more than five years old, you’ll want to have it updated. There are periodic changes in technology and best practices in web design and SEO that older sites won’t incorporate.
- Advertise With Related Businesses
There will be companies in just about any field that are similar but not directly competing with each other in what they offer. An example of such businesses would be Realtors, plumbers and roofers. All of their work is related to homes but through different products and services. If you’ve been serving your community for a while, you should already know some people who are in related but competing fields. Talk with them and strategize how you could work together to promote your businesses even if it’s as simple as giving each other referrals when one of you gets a customer who also needs the other’s services.
- Work With Local Charities
This serves the dual purpose of directly helping to give back to your community while also keeping your company name in front of that community. A common form that business and charity coordination takes is the agreement on the part of the business that a certain percentage of their proceeds will go to that charity. If possible, find a charity that aligns in some way with your company’s service or product. This niche marketing will yield better results than simply picking any large charity. Your charitable connection will enable you to come out of financially difficult times with greater brand awareness and additional networking opportunities. The greatest benefit for your bottom line will be that the charity is incentivized to market for you since they get a cut of your sales.
Be a Beacon of Light in Tough Times
Hopefully, the above advice will be helpful to you in weathering economically tough times for your business. Recessions begin with an initial fall off in sales, followed by a gradual climb out and then the growth that comes later. The trick is surviving to make it to this last part.
Let your previous and current clients and customers know you are still here whenever they need your goods or services. By showing that you care with gift packages, postcards with a supportive message and other outreach methods, you will stay in their minds when the economy and your industry start to mend. You may find yourself more successful than ever on the other side of these difficult times due to less competition if many others in your field closed their doors during the recession. By playing your cards right, you’ll come out of this situation with plenty of previous clients coming back, referrals from those clients and new customers.