If you have a business that sells products, you need to get the word out about your product to as many people in your target market as possible. Everything you do should start with getting customers. If you have no customers, you have no business. It is an unfortunate situation that most business owners cut back on their marketing and advertising budget when sales go down. That is exactly the worst approach you can take. Marketing is both a short-term and a long-term investment in the survivability of your company. Saving money on marketing when dollars are scarce may seem like a logical way to cut expenses. But, while you may see a short-term benefit, over the long haul, you may be slowly killing your business.
When consumers are scrutinizing each purchase carefully before they commit their dollars, you must keep on top of their mind why they need to purchase your product. You must keep reminding them that you are still in business and they need what you are selling. It is likely that your competitors are going through the same cost-benefit analysis in which you are engaged and that many of them have decided that they are not willing to spend their dollars on advertising or other forms of marketing. That’s great news. That is how you get to dominate your market. When others are pulling back, you push forward. You fill the vacuum left by your competitors’ trying to save money.
Similarly, if your business is a service business, you still need to market and create new referral sources and nurture the ones that you already have. This is the time to let your referral sources know that you are still in business and how much they mean to you. This is the time to spend on forming new relationships with movers and shakers who can bring you new clients. Keep up with those lunches and dinners, tickets to sports and other events, or however you used to develop new referral sources.
You may want to change your message a bit to acknowledge that times are different. If you are lucky, your product or service is even more needed, now that people are facing hard times and cutting their spending.
Don’t neglect using the free or cheaper forms of marketing that are out there. You can use social media to get your message out for free, you can hire independent contractors for each marketing project (check with your lawyer to make sure that you are not hiring an employee and classifying someone as an independent contractor), you can offer internships to college students to get some help instead of hiring employees (do this through the colleges that are near your office). There are many ways to market on the cheap if you need to economize. But don’t stop marketing. By consistently getting your marketing message out to your existing customers and to your target market for new customers, you are doing the most you can to ride out the hard times and still be in business when the good times return.