04/12/09

Increasing sales in a recession

It’s true that some business categories and products actually experience an increase in sales during a recession. Those products usually represent a lower cost alternative to an otherwise routine buying decision. Some examples include beer as opposed to wine and spirits, fast food as opposed to sit down dining and second hand store sales as opposed to new products whose usefulness isn’t significantly reduced by being used, such as books.
On the other hand, the harsh reality for most businesses today is that creating sales is a bona fide problem, requiring all the resourcefulness and ingenuity the entrepreneur can muster. It has been said that the new “up” is “flat”.
There is actually some truth to that. But, a businessman should not aim for flat, even in a devastating economy such as we are experiencing.
Today, businesses have more marketing tools in their tool box than ever before. Of course, there are two sides to that coin. On one hand, more options means you can customize a plan more accurately than ever before. On the other hand, there are so many choices and combinations, it could take months or years and untold thousands of dollars before you figure it out.
Here are a few tips to help narrow your decisions.
1. MEDIA IS A GENUINE BARGAIN RIGHT NOW. Media is priced as a result of two factors: number the people reached and demand. Here is the paradox of a recession. There are more people home watching TV, listening to the radio and paying attention to media because they are not going out as often. Yet, advertisers have cut back so much that the media is in the midst of a discounting war just to get advertisers. The result is that you get more viewers for less money.
Our agency has been able to negotiate huge discounts and other added value for clients who use TV, radio and print. These days, you can even snag some prime time slots that normally sell for thousands for as little as a few hundred dollars.
This takes more money than time. But, the rewards can be great, and the value will never be better.
2. Interactive and social marketing is relatively inexpensive and highly targeted. Coordinating your e-mail program with your web site, optimization, blog, twitter, You Tube, Facebook and other applications can have a measurable impact on sales.
This takes more time than money. And, the learning curve will be a quite a bit longer to get it right, both technically and strategically. It’s tempting to try this stuff yourself, but if you want to jump start your results, hire someone who knows what they’re doing to do it for you.
3. Good old fashioned guerrilla marketing has not and will never become extinct. It has been our experience that the most successful businesses are those who layer on a guerrilla marketing strategy to whatever else they might be doing. There are hundreds of tactics from cross promoting with another business to neighborhood door hangers to tricks with signage that can increase foot traffic as much as 30%.
This takes more time than money. And, you probably already know some of the things you can do. It will take longer to drive sales if this is the only strategy you use.
Figuring out the right strategic mix and what message resonates best with your target audience can and will drive sales. One of our clients, a Sacramento sit down restaurant chain, saw a 24.5% increase in sales this January as a direct result of marketing. A recession is not the end of the world. Business is still out there. You just have to work a little more strategically to increase your share.