Small Business Recession Marketing – Forget Innovation, Revisit the Basics For Best Results


Want the latest innovative, recession busting marketing idea? Stop reading. You won’t find it here. What you’ll find is a restatement of some marketing essentials. These basics are very important in normal times. In a recession, they’re crucial.

Focus, Focus, Focus…!
Re-examine what business you’re in. What exactly are you selling? How do you want your customers to see you? What differentiates you, in your customers’ eyes, from your competitors? Why should your customers remember you? Remember it’s a lot easier to manage one egg in one basket than to manage 10 different eggs in 10 different baskets.

Stick To Your Target Market
Do you have an unequivocal, crystal clear, absolutely certain target market? If you don’t, decide one… and quickly. If you fail to do this, the specialists will swamp you with precise marketing of specific target markets. And it’s not enough to say “plumbing”. Is it home maintenance, commercial, contract, new building installation or whatever plumbing? It’s hard to have a target market without a clear focus.

Buy Everything Else Around The Corner
It’s an old saying: “Do only those things to which you bring a unique perspective. Buy everything else around the corner”. In tough times, the great temptation is to try to save money by bringing in house, services you currently outsource. Be careful. You may save money initially. But you court problems in the longer term when you try to do things you’re not good at. Let your outsource specialists continue if they’re good. Negotiate better terms if you can.

The Value of “Lifetime Value
I can best explain the idea of “Lifetime Value Of A Client” this way. If you spend $250 each week at the local supermarket, you’re worth $13,000 a year (52 x $250) to them. If you continue as a customer for 10 years your value to the supermarket is $130,000. That sort of customer is worth looking after… each week. To discover the annual value of your customers simply divide your revenue by the number of customers. In a recession, it’s most important to try to increase the lifetime value of your existing customers.

The Backend
In marketing, a backend refers to the value you can create with associated businesses and they with you. For example let’s say you have a home maintenance plumbing business. You could form an association with a home electrical maintenance business. You refer your customers to them. They refer theirs to you. It helps reinforce your customer relationships. Your backend businesses should have similar philosophies to you, especially relating to customer service and value for money.

“Serve ‘em To Death”
I first heard this expression on a sales training tape over 30 years ago. It still holds true. Look for ways you can enhance your service, especially for existing customers. Bear in mind that in a recession, discounts, T-shirts and baseball caps abound. They don’t represent service. Try to find a service edge that your competitors will either find hard to match or be reluctant to match. And make it something that your customers will value not something you like the sound of.

It’s All About Value
Emphasise value all the time. If you do this well enough, you’ll be able to maintain your prices if not your margins. Find out why customers believe you offer genuine value and what value they’re seeking. Carefully restate all the benefits of using your product or service in terms of their value to the customer. Thirty miles to the gallon is a feature. Save $10 a week on petrol costs is a benefit. Save enough on petrol to buy a ticket to watch The Lakers – or whatever – is great value.

“Back to Basics” should be your marketing mantra in a recession. And ensure that your staff are well versed in and committed to those basics too. While your competitors are discounting and introducing “innovative marketing strategies” you’ll be telling customers about unparalleled service and value. That alone will differentiate you in the marketplace. And you’ll be much better prepared when the good times return.