Slow times suck for business! I’ll give you that. No one likes standing around twiddling their thumbs while they wait for the phone to ring, or that next customer to walk in the door.
(Or, maybe you have one of those employees that just likes to ride the clock and doesn’t mind it.)
But for most business owners that I know, when business is slow we start to worry, we get scared, and for some reason we immediately cut the marketing budget. Doesn’t matter if we are doing something cool or not!
It’s crazy, I know!
When business is slow we are generating less revenue. We still have all of our fixed expenses so we cut the area of our business that some (*cough* most) view as a luxury and not a necessity.
Whew, now that we have cut out all forms of marketing we have freed up some cash. Now we feel a little better knowing that we have some cushion because…well…business is slow.
But where are all the customers?
What I still don’t understand is why so many business owners think that just because they cut the marketing budget that business will soon pick up.
It doesn’t work that way.
When you cut all forms of advertising it doesn’t promote your company and the services that you offer. With no form of communication to the outside world, business will still be slow because your target audience is still not being reached.
Going Out Of Business
There is not much that I hate, but I hate those 4 words. I know too many business owners who have been forced to close shop.
I have worked for 2 companies that have closed because of various reasons. One ended up closing then selling the company altogether, and the other closed the location that I was working at.
Sales were dropping, business was slow, and the marketing efforts being used at the time were just not working.
Side note: I am happy to say that both of the owners of the companies are doing great now and have thriving businesses!
That was years ago. We could just blame the situation on the “economy” and be done with it but we can’t.
Why? Because we are still seeing businesses close.
In the last few weeks I have seen 2 businesses close just outside my office, and am hearing about other businesses who are headed that way.
The owner of one of the businesses told me that because business was so slow she could not afford to advertise.
Although she had already committed to closing the business at the time of our conversation, I couldn’t help but think about what she could have done or could be doing to try and save her business.
When I hear, “Oh yea I advertise!”, for many small business owners they are referring to:
- The Yellowpages
- The local newspaper
- Possibly a billboard half-blocked by trees
- Direct mail pieces
- An expensive TV commercial
Some spend a ton of money on a few of these items while others spend a ton of money doing it all.
Many small business owners think that these are the only forms of marketing that can advertise their business.
I don’t know why so many have this mindset. Maybe it’s because they have been doing it this way for so many years. It worked it the past, right?
Right! It worked in the past but that doesn’t mean that it will work now.
How are your competitors doing? Have you looked at them? Have they cut their marketing?
Chances are that if they are doing well and continuing with their marketing efforts, they are doing something right!
Instead of cutting your marketing budget completely, which we have determined doesn’t increase sales, why not reevaluate what you have been doing and determine what is working and what is not working.
See, if you can narrow down a few bad areas of your marketing mix that will free up more opportunity to explore better options.
We are a culture that is bombarded with interruption advertising and marketing messages! It doesn’t matter if it’s a commercial or a direct mail piece.
Everywhere we look there is an ad. We see so many ads everyday, and because of that, we begin to tune them out.
So if your customers are tuning out traditional advertising (aka Your Marketing Efforts), how do you reach them?
The New New!
Remember content marketing?
As defined by Brian Clark, “Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.”
The best place to do this is on your website or blog. You can create all sorts of content, and are not limited to just copy. You can incorporate images, video, eBooks, infographics, etc.
Some forms of content work better for some businesses, but in the end, creating valuable free content can be done and work for all businesses.
The 2 businesses I used to work for could have benefited from content marketing (one is doing it now!), and the business owner I recently talked to surely could have implemented this strategy.
Think about what your business does. How is it different from competitors? Do you add value over your competitors?
Now think about your customers. What do they need? What questions or concerns are they having?
If you can answer those questions you will have a good starting point for really reaching and communicating with your target audience.
You will be advertising your business but not in the interruption sense. And with a good opt-in email list, you have a great way to get your message out there.
So when business is slow next time, or maybe it’s still slow, don’t automatically stop all of your marketing efforts. Just pause, reevaluate what is and what isn’t working, and try a different approach.
There are no written rules for marketing, only that you must!
Have you ever stopped your marketing and advertising efforts in the past?
Photo Courtesy of Bark