Market Smart in the Downturn

By 2010 I was hoping I would be done talking about the recession. Over the past year I’ve had several friends ask me about how and why to market in a down economy. The fact is that most successful companies grow through marketing in the latter half of a recession. Even more amazing is that a large percentage of Fortune 100 companies were actually formed during an economic downtown.

By marketing in a down economy you can put yourself ahead of the competition when the economy recovers. The trick to marketing in a downturn is to market smart. Any idiot can market in a booming economy, when people are willing to spend money all you have to do is show them how. In a bad economy though you have to market smart and show people why to spend money. I typically give out 5 tips to market smart in a down economy:

  1. Track – Analytics are key in marketing in a down economy. You have to make sure you get every dime out of your marketing dollars. Using marketing tools like personalized URLs help you measure response from each marketing piece to help you adjust and refine each time you market.
  2. Segment – In an upturn a shotgun approach works fine, you can typically get enough people to bite on a marketing piece to make it worthwhile. In a down economy you must appeal to them individually which means segmenting your database to deliver exactly the right piece to the right people. Sometimes this means sending multiple versions of one piece, by using targeting marketing you can easily run this all in one marketing push.
  3. Be Innovative and Eye Catching – More than likely your competition is going to be marketing as well during the downturn. So make your marketing stand out. Spend a little extra time with a graphic designer, use good photography, and add that special touch to set your marketing piece apart. Remember a marketing piece is only good if someone looks at it.
  4. Understand Your Market – Make sure you are keeping up with what your market wants. Follow your customers on twitter, create a facebook fan page and invite them to it, or buy them lunch sometime just to chat. In a recession you have to go to the customers, don’t expect them to come to you.
  5. Keep it Cheap – I’ve walked into marketing positions before to find dozens of boxes of marketing materials. The people before me must have ordered a million line cards at a time. Every single marketing handout was at least 5 years old and out of date. In a recession, you don’t have a lot to spend, so spend smart. Instead of running large offset print jobs, run smaller digital print on demand jobs. You can run just what you need without running the risk of having expensive out of date materials sitting around in a closet.

Let me know how you market smart in a down economy, drop me a comment below.

-Greg

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