What an interesting time to be running a business? Everyone is trying to speculate about what is going to happen in real estate, with gas prices (and the shortage), the election and in the economy overall. Small businesses are responding in a variety of ways . . . some are ceasing all extraneous spending . . . others downsizing . . . and many are “hitting the streets” in an effort to boost their sales.
We can’t throw in the towel – small business is still the fiber of our economy . . . but now is an even more important time to make some smart marketing decisions. Below are a few key principles to help your business continue to thrive in the midst of tricky times . . .
Retain, cross-sell, up-sell
We all know that the most time-consuming and costly part of marketing is capturing a prospect’s attention, and then building trust so they will buy from you. Marketing analysts say that the cost to acquire a new customer is 5-10 times greater than to retain an existing customer. So why not spend your time and resources keeping your existing business, cross-selling to your current customers and encouraging former customers to buy again? You already have a good bit of contact information, a buying history and hopefully some other knowledge about them. Use this to re-connect, stay in touch and demonstrate the value you bring through your products and services.
Promote products/services people need in this economy.
Think about the products or services you offer that save your customers money, increase efficiency, simplify life and can contribute to their key values. Focus on promoting those products and services rather than your entire inventory.
Give them a “taste” of what you have to offer. Consumers have become a lot less risk-tolerant. They want to get a sense that their purchases will count. We are seeing fewer impulse buys and more calculated, well-thought out purchases. You may want to consider breaking down your offering into a more appealing price point – a massage therapist may want to offer a 30 minute massage rather than the typical one hour . . . an IT services provider may want to put together a package of computer services with specific diagnostic and service deliverables the will speed up the performance of the computer for a flat rate.
In prospecting, build trust, go deep
As you pursue new prospects, your approach is what matters most. Since we see and hear over 3400 marketing and advertising messages each day, it is difficult for a business to capture a prospect’s attention to get them to make a purchase . . . especially in this economy where people are more careful when parting with their money.
When promoting your products or services make the investment in time or money to generate an attractive, professional design and compelling message. The call to action should require very little risk on the part of your prospect. Get them to take the next step by offering valuable information or free or low-cost “samples” of what you do. In this economy, consumers won’t make a decision by simply seeing an ad or mailer . . . you’ve got to go for the easier close, and build a relationship with a prospect through multiple steps.