Is it possible to not only survive, but actually thrive, during a recession? Yes, your business has the opportunity to do well during an economic downturn. It’s not easy to accomplish. It requires mental fortitude and a strong commitment to staying true to the decisions you make.
Your first key decision should be to keep your eye on the future. Regretful decisions are often the ones we look back on and realize we made while our thinking was short-sighted.
It’s easy to make bad decisions during a recession because the first instinct is to shrink back and go into survival mode. The interesting thing is that you can make sales during the recession. If done correctly, the work that brings sales now will also benefit your business long-term when the economy eventually recovers.
Let’s explore how to market and sell during a recession.
Use Social Media Properly
Local businesses often under utilize social media strategies. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an insurance agent, realtor, car repair shop, flower shop, landscaper, dentist, hair stylist, cafe owner, massage therapist, clothing store owner or bakery owner. There are social media tactics you can leverage to communicate effectively with customers.
Customers aren’t going to spend money as easily when the economy is bad. However, this is your opportunity to set yourself apart from competitors. When competitors stop aggressively pursuing consumers, you should do the opposite.
For example, strategically cut your prices on some products or services and use social media to advertise those specials. Use the #recession hashtag and other related hashtags to communicate that you’re attempting to make their lives easier during a hard time.
Customers will appreciate it and your specials will drive people toward your offers. Guess what? Once they’ve engaged with you and begin to trust your approach, you’ll discover that upselling them into other profitable offers will work. You can use this approach to profit while your competitors wonder how you’re creating prosperity during tough times.
Here are a few tactical social media approaches to take. Use videos on Facebook and YouTube to talk to your audience. Show your empathy for their situation and let them know you’ve cut prices to help them during the recession. Use images to do the same thing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Paid ads are generally less expensive during a recession because many advertisers pull their campaigns. Look for opportunities to create a paid campaign and benefit from cheaper clicks.
Use a Postcard Strategy
A direct mail campaign is incredibly effective for any local business. While Internet marketing strategies are vital, so is getting a tangible postcard in the hands of your prospects.
Using a well-planned direct mail strategy allows you to target specific neighborhoods and zip codes in order to put your offers into the hands of the people you want to do business with.
A recession postcard mailing should reveal empathy and offer positive messages that show your prospects and customers that you understand their situation. For example, using slogans such as, “I understand times are tight” or “I understand this is a scary time” provide you the opportunity to position your discount offers in the appropriate light.
You should also send postcards to your past customers with a simple, “I’m thinking of you” campaign. Encourage your customers to reach out to you. Tell them you care about their families and that you’re here to listen and support them.
Most of your competitors won’t take this approach. You’ll stand out during the recession. The result will be more sales during the recession, as well as after the economy improves.
Send Out Care Packages
Another way to reach out to past customers is sending out care packages. Brainstorm what you might send to past customers that helps them see you in a positive light.
- Are you a realtor? You might send out a package of cookies or candy with a message that tells them you wanted to brighten their day.
- If you’re a massage therapist, then why not send a box of essential oils that customers can use to destress with?
- A landscaper might send a gift card for the local hardware store.
Every business owner has something they can send past customers that provides help, comfort or usefulness. Find what works best for your business and get those care packages out immediately. Who do you think your customers will continue to do business with? You or your competitors who disappeared during the recession?
Get Involved In Community Events
You have a tremendous opportunity to provide help to your local community during an economic downturn. You might help financially or with your time. Either way, people will remember who was there during the tough times. This will provide you with excellent opportunities for growth both during the recession and economic recovery.
Donate school supplies: Make an impact on the future generations that go through the local school system by donating supplies. You can brand some of those supplies with your logo. You might donate pens, flash drives or planners.
Donate to a library: Ask your local library what they need. Then, offer to donate it.
Sponsor a social gathering: Organize something like an ice cream social with a church or other local organization. Provide the meeting spot and food supplies. Possibly raffle off prizes that are tied to your product or service.
Get your employees involved: Provide your employees an incentive to volunteer their time to local causes. The community will notice that your company is actively involved in helping local organizations during the recession. You will notice more business as a result.
Help local school programs: Music and art programs are in trouble in most school systems. Sponsor one of these programs. Do you know how many parents will notice when you make it easier for their children to cover the costs of art supplies or musical instruments?
Help a Charity
What charity can you help during the recession? Charities will feel the pain of an economic downturn. If you step in and help during this time, you will discover that many local leaders take notice.
Networking in this way with charity and local leaders helps you meet influential people in the community. This will pay dividends when those same people do business with you and also refer others.
Partner With Other Local Businesses
A recession is an easy time to establish partnerships because other local business owners are scared. They’re wondering how they’re going to survive. Step in and show them how you can both thrive by working together.
A bakery owner should partner with a deli. Patrons of the deli get a nice discount at the bakery and vice versa. A wedding planner can partner with a caterer.
A landscaper can offer a promotion to his or her customers that incentivizes them to hire their house painter partner. The painter does the same in return. A dentist can offer the relief offered by a massage therapist and vice versa.
Partnerships are a wonderful way to connect your customers to other local businesses. They connect their customers to you and both businesses end up with more customers than they normally would during a recession.
Don’t be afraid of a recession. If you act with bold action and show empathy to customers and other business owners, then you can create opportunities for profiting during and after the economic slowdown. Your boldness will be a shining light to everyone you come into contact with.