Sunday, February 15, 2009

Four Ways to Maintain a Strong Business in a Bad Economy by Kathy Hrach

The economic news in America keeps getting gloomier. A lot of bad business words are flying around - such as recession, bailout, depression, downturn, downsizing, etc. Marketing departments are cutting budgets. Sales reps are saving money by making fewer customer visits. Businesses are hunkering down to wait out the storm. Makes sense, right? Wrong.
Why? Because when you hide, you're forgotten. Sure, you may be saving money, but your customers won't remember who you are or what you do. You may think that all of your competitors are hiding too - and most will - but there will always be at least one who forges ahead. One who embraces the tough economy and finds creative ways to stay in front of their customers. One who fights back and refuses to toss their hands up in frustration. One who takes business away from their competitors. Which one would you rather be?
Here are Some Things You Can Do to Keep Your Business Strong:
1. Figure Out Who Your Customers Are Now is when you need to be most efficient with your sales and marketing efforts. It's a waste of your time and money to go after everyone who inquires about your products or services. Figure out who your best customers are and focus on keeping them happy and finding others just like them. They often say 20% of your customers bring in 80% of your business. Find out who that 20% is ASAP.
2. Diversify Your Target Markets A bad economy for one industry may be a boon for another. If you only cater to one specific industry, it might be time to get creative and find ways to branch out and diversify. Sometimes this is the biggest challenge that businesses face, but often it's easier than you think. Keep an open mind and think creatively.
3. Pay Attention to Where You Spend Rather than making drastic budget cuts, first analyze how you are spending your money. A little trimming here and there could go a long way towards saving money each month. Be sure to test your sales and marketing efforts as well. Don't be afraid to try new things, but always analyze your efforts to make sure you're not wasting time or money.
4. Make and Keep a Regular Outreach Plan Whatever you do, don't go into hiding. Make a plan to communicate with current and potential customers. Send them handwritten notes, give them a call, drop them an email, and continue to update your website. Keep in touch and show them that you are still in business and ready to serve.
As they say during any tough times - only the strong survive. Choose to be one of the strong ones. Don't let economic fears affect your success - fight back.
About the Author
Kathy Hrach is Co-founder of Write On Results, a marketing agency that uses real pens and real writers to hand address their clients' envelopes for dramatically improved direct mail response rates. She writes the monthly Pen & Paper Marketing Blog.

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