It’s normal to feel some fear as a business owner when recessions hit. You wonder if your customers will cancel contracts or if you’ll have trouble bringing new customers in the door. However, there are solutions to the situation whether you are a realtor, repair shop owner, insurance agent, landscaper, dentist or doctor.
The first thing to remember is that your customers are people with their own fears during down economic times. Ask yourself how you can reach out to prospects and customers in order to help make their lives better. For example, you might send a direct mail piece that offers a special offer so they can more easily use your services. Or, you could get involved with a charity and give back to the community.
Either way, customers will remember your goodwill when times get better. Your business will profit from these types of activities both during and after a recession. Let’s discuss all the potential ways to market effectively during a recession.
Use Social Media Properly
Leveraging social media when the economy goes down is a smart way to reach people. Your customers are on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook discussing what’s happening with the economy.
Engage with your social followers. Ask them questions. Get conversations going. Be the positive person that brings light into a dark situation. Show empathy. Provide ideas for solving problems others complain about.
Mix posts about specials and deals around your helpful content posts. These deals will be met positively because your followers see how human you’ve been in your posts that offered tips and encouragement.
Send Tasteful Postcards
People’s lives become interrupted during economic downturns. Your customers feel disjointed and out of place. It’s your job to interact with them on more of a personal basis. Talk to them less as a business person and more as a human being. Show them you care about them and their families.
Sending thoughtful postcards is one of the most effective ways to do this. There are many postcard templates to choose from that help you create thoughtful and caring messages. It’s an excellent way to put your image and brand in front of prospects and customers in an uplifting manner.
For example, your postcard might simply say:
- “I’m thinking of you”
- “Let’s be kind and remind one another that everything will be OK”
- “I’m here for you if you simply want to chat”
Send Care Packages To Customers
Get creative and ask yourself what you might send to both new and previous customers. Care packages set you apart from competitors who forget how their audience is suffering.
If you’re a landscaper, you might send a care package that includes a gift card for fertilizer or lawn tools at the local hardware store. If you’re a realtor, you might send past clients a care package with a supermarket gift card.
Little gifts like this have a huge impact on how your customers feel about you. They will reciprocate with more referrals and repeat purchases.
Become Active With Community Events
This is the time to help out your community. Nothing humanizes a business owner more than getting involved in community events.
Can you use your expertise to teach a class? For example, why don’t you offer your skills as a mechanic and teach a class at a local community college or library? Or, you could teach home-buying tips if you’re a realtor or broker. Teach something that relates to your business. It will allow you to authentically introduce your business to the class as you build a relationship with the students.
Sponsor an event. Create a fun way to generate interest in your business as you offer value to the community. For instance, hold an underwater scavenger hunt at the community pool if you sell scuba equipment. Hold a downtown cake-walk if you own a bakery. People will remember you and these events for years to come.
Any business can host a school field trip. Kids would actually love to go out to an insurance broker’s office, repair shop or a contracting site. Anything to get out of that school building for a few hours!
Partner With a Charity
Nothing says you care about the local community more than donating to a charity. This is especially true during an economic downturn. Donations should only be your first step, however. Why not donate your services as well? For example, you could give food to a local fundraiser if you happen to be a caterer. Or, you might clean the clothes that are donated to a coat drive if you own a dry cleaning business.
Close your office once per month and get your employees involved with volunteering at the local food bank. Or, invest the day donating your professional skills to organizations that need them.
Your reputation in the local community will positively rise as you give your time and money to needy organizations. People will instinctively know that the recession affects you just the same as it does everyone else. They’ll think it’s impressive that you’re giving during a time when you’re struggling to hold your sales to pre-recession levels.
Partnering with charities also strengthens your relationships with other business owners and community leaders. If you ever get in trouble in the future, you’ll have people who will come to your aid because you helped a charity they believe in during the recession.
Another benefit to this activity is the business it drives. You might get a thank you today for your charitable work and then that same person will call you in two months asking to buy insurance or a house from you.
Partner With Other Local Businesses
Partnerships are one of the best marketing tactics, whether it’s during a recession or good economic times. Find other local businesses that compliment what you do and partner together.
For example, you might partner with a local landscaper if you’re a general contractor. Run a promotion where you tie your services together. The homeowner who’s home you’re working on gets a discount when they use your partner’s landscaping services. Your landscaper reciprocates by offering an exclusive discount for your contractor services with their existing clients.
This works for all types of businesses. A realtor can partner with a landscaper. A car repair shop can partner with a flower shop. The possibilities are endless. Your company gets sales from customers you never would have met otherwise and those customers get price breaks to help them during the recession.
As you can see, there are many ways to market intelligently during a recession. It simply takes a little planning and a lot of creativity. The most important aspect to these strategies is to keep your goals secondary to the needs of your customers. Every decision needs to be filtered through a lens where you ask yourself if you’re helping as a human being first and a business second.
As you get your recession-proof marketing started, remember that it’s easier to sell to past customers than gain new ones.
One final tip is to find ways to re-engage your past customers. Make it easy for them to buy during these hard times. Give price breaks you normally wouldn’t dream of giving. This practice humanizes you, brings in sales you wouldn’t normally convert in a recession and results in larger sales numbers when the economy eventually recovers.