Marketing and Thriving in 2009

creativitylightbulbChances are pretty good that right now many of you are thinking about and looking for information on how to keep a small business thriving during a recession.  (It’s a good thing you found Small Business Daily!) If you haven’t sat down and thought about this one thing, then you should:  It’s times like this when small business have the rare opportunity to leap frog over their competition.   It’s true!  While big business is cutting back spending on marketing, small businesses continue moving forward and they are getting creative about it.

I’ve heard the story before from small business owners who used times like this to their advantage.  They didn’t sit around and worry about the economy, instead they put creativity to work and developed new, cool and even very affordable ways to market their business and communicate to customers.

Think about it this way, you may say “I’m not a large company.  I can’t do that”, but the reality is that small businesses have much more flexibility then big business.   There isn’t any red tape to cut through, no massive sales staff or major distribution channels to formulate expensive communications and promotional materials for, and finally no limitations to what you can do and when.

This is your chance to sit down, brainstorm some unique marketing tactics that you can truly call your own;  things no competitor large or small is doing. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking and planning:

  1. Focus on targeting your messages and speaking directly to customers.  Give them exactly what it is your looking for and provide a reason to walk in the door.
  2. Make that incredible offering, promotion, discount that competitors wouldn’t dream of doing to encourage trial and make a sale.
  3. Zero in on customer service this year to ensure that you hold on to customers.  They’ll appreciate it and they’ll spread the word.
  4. Get your story out there.  If you have a good story to tell, an interesting new product or service GET IT OUT THERE.  Public relations is your friend.  Don’t be afraid to make it a real goal for the year.
  5. Create ongoing communications with customers and let them know you understand what’s happening and appreciate their business.
  6. One of the most popular trends that started during the last economic slowdown was the advent of customer appreciation cards (you know like the one you use at your local grocer) and customer loyalty programs.  Some of the best programs I’ve seen include giving an ongoing discount to regular customers every time they walk in the door or a special extra “something”.

Trust me there are still a million and one viable ideas that no one has thought about and every business whether product or service-focused can develop one.   Plan about three hours out of your week and, if possible, gather some trusted friends or employees to help you brainstorm new ways to communicate with existing customers, attract new ones and become a thriving business in 2009.

You might be surprised to know that a number of small business owners I know and work with are incredibly excited and feeling positive about 2009.  I encourage everyone to get on that bandwagon by doing something new for your business that will excite and motivate you this year!

Jennifer Fortney, Cascade Communications

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