How Small Business Should Deal With Recessions and Economic Downturns

recession

I’m sure at this point you have “recession fatigue”. The talking heads have been debating it for months and the stock market has been ping-ponging wildly for just as long. The fear of a recession is paralyzing for some small business owners because of the possibility of it effecting your bottom line. This article will focus on a few things that you can do to capitalize on the current part of the cycle that we are in.

1. Stop Panicking!

Yes, the idea of decreased sales is something to rattle the strongest of constitutions, but don’t let it become a self fulfilling prophecy. In most downturns businesses decide to cut their budgets, which is not unwise, but cuts in the wrong areas can do more harm than good. The economy is not going to come to a complete standstill. There will still be a demand for your product or services and that is why you need to gain market share. Your competitors are waiting for you to drop the ball when it comes to communicating with your target market. Don’t fall into the trap. Preserve your marketing and advertising budget. It’s time to get serious and attract the customers that are still willing to buy.

2. Become a Better Marketer.

As mentioned earlier you will need to grab a larger share of the market. In order to do this you have to take advantage of the means and methods available. Learn how to convey the consumer benefits of your product or service in a clear and convincing way. Stop telling your potential customers about your company and it’s history and start telling them what you can do for them and how your product or service can help to fill a void, alleviate a burden or save them time and or money.

3. Start Planning.

If you are faced with some downtime use it wisely. The downturn will not last forever and by using your downtime to prepare for the recovery will help you to fully capitalize on the natural cycle of the economy. Take the time to organize and streamline the everyday procedures in your business that slow production and hinder you from taking on additional work. Position yourself to be able to handle more customers when times are better. For each business this means different things, but the idea of efficiency is broad enough to apply to whatever field you might specialize in.

Eric Young is the President of PromotionLotion.com, a firm dedicated to helping businesses and organizations reach out to the public as creatively and inexpensively as possible. Please visit www.promotionlotion.com to learn more.

Getting The Most From Postcard Marketing

custom postcard design and printing

One of the most popular forms of direct marketing is the use of postcards to reach your target audience. Postcard postage is much cheaper than standard first class postage and the postcards themselves are relatively inexpensive to produce. However, if your direct mail campaign is not properly planned, and the postcards are not strategically designed your response rate will suffer. This article will outline how to effectively plan a direct mail campaign that will yield favorable results.

First and foremost you have to ask yourself if direct mailing is worth it for you. Marketing experts agree that the standard response rate for a direct mail campaign is 1-2%. Let’s break this down a little bit: If you spend $350 on 5000 postcards, $1200 on postage and $200 on a mailing list of 5000 prospects your expenses total $1750. If you yield a 2% response rate that means you have 100 positive responses or sales. How much you make per sale will be the final determining factor in deciding whether or not direct mail campaigns are a worthy investment.

Let’s say you sell novelty t-shirts and make a profit of $10 per sale. At a 2% response rate that’s 100 sales yielding $1000. This is $750 less than it cost to run the campaign and it is a major loss. However, if you sell custom furniture at $50 profit on each sale, the postcard campaign will yield 100 positive responses totaling $5,000. This particular scenario shows a major gain and would be quite worth the investment.

Once you’ve crunched the numbers and figured that a direct mail campaign might be worth your while, it is time to plan your campaign. Setting up the right plan is the key to making sure you achieve at least a 1-2% response rate. The basic elements of the plan include selecting your mailing list, writing effective marketing copy, including a special offer, and making a strong call to action.

Selecting the right mailing list is the cornerstone to overseeing a successful direct mail campaign. There are many list brokers that sell leads that can be custom tailored to your needs. For example, if you sell high end automobiles you would most likely want to target those with a specific income range. Most list brokers make it possible to narrow down your mailing list according income range as well as many other criteria.

Once you’ve selected your target market and purchased your mailing list it is time to actually design your promotional piece. This is where most campaigns go wrong. Most people aren’t familiar with the proper marketing techniques that ensure a better response rate. For example, they tend to highlight the features of their product or service rather than emphasizing the benefits the consumer will reap by purchasing this product or service. Prospects are not really interested in YOU, they are interested in THEMSELVES. By highlighting how your product or service can alleviate a burden they might have or save them some money you are on your way to grasping their full attention. For example, if you are a landscaping company you do not want your headline to read “Over 20 Years Experience!” This headline does not appeal to the needs of the prospect. Try instead, “Spend your weekends relaxing, not weeding!”

This particular headline uses the alleviation of a burden as its marketing approach and would be much more effective than the former.

Including a special offer in your message is crucial to its success but you don’t have to give away the farm. A simple discount for first time customers is enough to cut through the competitor’s offers and give your prospect the incentive to consider you first. Again, it is important to first crunch the numbers and calculate how much you can afford to discount and still come out ahead. Other special offers might include the offering of small gifts, coupons or gift certificates.

The “call to action” statement is a phrase in which you urge your prospect to be proactive. CALL NOW, ORDER NOW and SIGN UP TODAY are just some of these phrases that we hear everyday. Often times these statements will be tied in with the special offer to give them some more teeth- ORDER NOW AND SHIPPING IS FREE!

Though these statements may seem superfluous countless marketing experts agree that they work. They motivate the prospect to take that extra step and move beyond just considering your offer to acting on it.

Once you decide that postcard marketing is for you, adhering to these guidelines will help to ensure greater response rates which ultimately lead to more sales.

For more about postcards that can be designed to fit your needs please visit: www.promotionlotion.com

Getting The Most From Business Card Marketing

custom business card design

Using your business card as a promotional tool helps to kill two birds with one stone. A professionally designed custom business card can not only act as a reference source for your contact info, but also as  a powerful marketing piece that conveys your message to its holder.

Consider having a double sided business card that not only tells people how to reach you, but WHY they should reach you. You can do this simply by including your customer benefit statement and possibly a testimonial from a happy client on your attractive, high quality custom business card. A customer benefit statement simply is a statement that declares how your product or service can benefit the customer in an important way. Marketing experts agree that listing benefits rather than features of your product or service is a more effective way to increase sales.

If you’re going to pay to have something designed and printed you want to make sure that it’s going to include the features that you need to foster sales. Utilizing a professional graphic designer that is well aware of tried and true marketing techniques can give your business card that little extra muscle you might need to close the deal or attract a new customer. The designers at Promotion Lotion will design a card that’s right for you and your industry. Our attention to both aesthetic appeal and marketing effectiveness will ensure that your final product is not only attractive, but also effective!