Recession-Proof Your Business
By Andrea Conway
The saying "A rising tide lifts all boats" (John F. Kennedy) perfectly describes the boom years of the economy earlier this decade. You really didn't have to do much to have an OK business back then. But what about today's receding tide?
Fortunately the recession won't take all boats down with it -- only the ones that don't understand how to recession-proof their business. Use attraction marketing to build your business, especially in tough times. Start with these three strategies...
- You might decide to run fewer ads or spend less on customer events, but you can still communicate with your customers more. If you have an email list, contact people at least once a week. Don't make it just about selling. Your customers also appreciate articles, tips and useful information. Worried that too many emails will cause them to opt out? If your messages are valuable, people appreciate them -- except for those people who probably were not good customers anyway. Overall, good email communications strengthen your relationships with customers. Even if a few people unsubscribe, the net result is positive.
If you have physical addresses only, mail a postcard every 4-8 weeks. Promote a customer appreciate sale. Offer a free consultation. Send people to your website for a free special report, an article, a video of you using your product, or a tip sheet.
Don't have a mailing list at all? Start building one. Right now. A mailing list is one of the essential assets of any small business.
- Become more innovative with your products and services. Don't stick with the same old stuff, it's time to shake things up -- and look for ways to add value to your typical offerings.
If you're a coach, add some teleseminars or digital products to your offerings. If you sell products, add coaching or training that helps people use what you sell. If you offer a service, such as pet-sitting or office cleaning, create a tip sheet or simple newsletter.
Also look for ways to leverage relationships with other business owners. In the brick-and-mortar world, complementary businesses often team up. For example, your wine shop might offer tastings with cheese and crackers from the gourmet store down the block. My life partner's art print and poster store sells framing and has the work done by a framer in another part of town.
Leverage works for online businesses too. My audio set on Law of Attraction Marketing was created around interviews with other attraction marketing experts. Who could you interview to create a podcast or a teleclass?
- Add your personality to your promotions! One of the great benefits of owning a small business is you don't have to act like an impersonal corporation. Thank goodness! Be quirky (but business like).
Let people know your favorite charity is the local animal shelter or that you love to restore antique furniture or take your Honda Gold Wing out on the open road. Talk about your home town, your kids, your vacation, your parakeet.
Most of all: express your passion for the business you created and let people know why you're in business. Don't assume they know. Develop a compelling story that you tell often -- stories have the power to draw people in.
It's called the KLT factor: when times are tough, people want to do business with people they Know, Like and Trust. Here are some tips:
- Avoid giving too many personal details - you don't want people stopping by your house.
- Go easy on politics, religion, or other areas of potential controversy and conflict.
- Use personality as a condiment or side dish, keeping your customers' attention solidly on the main course - your product or service.