According to the market research, businesses that invest in marketing during a recession typically see a return on investment of more than 4 per cent in the short term, as well as gaining market share three times faster in the two years following a recession.
Fortunately, effective marketing doesn’t have to break the bank – if it’s done creatively. The following are just some of the ways growing businesses can make the most of the tough times ahead by smart use of direct marketing.
Refresh your marketing materials
Revamping brochures, pamphlets and flyers can be done cheaply in-house using Desktop Publishing software or even Microsoft Word to create professional looking documents that can be printed locally. Even photos can be purchased, royalty free, from sites such as www.istockphoto.com
Ensure your website is up-to-date
- As more and more people move online, it’s vital you don’t get left behind and miss out on their custom. Ensure the content of your website is relevant and up-to-date and all your latest customers and news is posted regularly. Silly things like contact details, email addresses, phone numbers and links are current.
- If your website is out of date and does not change neither your customers nor the search engines will visit it. Include a blog or something that can be easily updated with useful information and details for your customers.
- Sign up for all the free “relevant” online directories – get your website listed and out there – even Linkedin, or Facebook can add traffic to your site.
- Utilise the free Web Optimisation tools that Google now has available or attend a good website workshop that will tell you how to design a good website that the search engines will be able to easily optimise.
Email marketing is an affordable method of reaching out to potential customers and can be targeted very effectively, with the added benefits that recipients can respond immediately. You can send out emails to various mail groups using your in-house address book or database. Another, larger scale and perhaps more efficient option is using an outside email marketing company to assist – but whichever you choose, ensure you are able to measure the emails’ effect on sales.
As an example – I worked with a client before Christmas to send out 4500 emails – 450 of them were opened and 90 of them clicked on the link with 14 looking at his website for more details. After following up the people that were interested he now has already secured one piece of business with another two in the pipeline totalling £30,000 – not bad for an afternoons work.
Press the flesh
- You are always the best ambassador for your business – networking is a proven method of meeting new people and increasing business. Research your local groups and go along for a visit and make sure you make some meaningful contacts whilst you are there.
- Dust of your little black book of contacts – friends, family, suppliers, people on Linkedin and see what they are doing and who they may know that could either help you with your business or refer you on.
This year will be hard, but companies who invest wisely in selected marketing initiatives will bolster their position and enable them to emerge surer, stronger and brighter from the economic gloom ahead.
Remember – if you don’t ask you don’t get.