(reprinted with permission from Your Virtual Insurance by SellingWithTechnology.com Jan 24 2002 issue)
Many studies show that companies
which slow marketing spending lose out now, as well as well after a recovery. As
importantly, you want your customers to know that they’ve picked a winner, and your
prospects to know you’ll survive – and thrive – in tough times as well as good. Tune your
marketing to communicate a position of confidence, stability and strength, and get the message out.
Audit your brand
Does your company or product brand
accurately reflect who you are? and who you want to be? Is what you say you stand for
believable – and important to – your target audience? Make sure the brand you go forward
with is the right one, and put systems in place to maintain its value.
Consistent logo usage, a single “voice” and the way you
communicate your brand in other ways is critical. If you are like most companies, your
brand is the most valuable intangible asset your company owns. Protect it.
Reevaluate your product and service offerings
In a down economy, it seems like
everyone’s concerned only with price. In all likelihood, their real concern is likely value.
Look for ways you can repackage existing products or services in ways that can provide more value. Or,
develop a product or service line that can accommodate smaller clients or customers with reduced budgets.
Embrace your database
Your current database probably houses
former customers and prospects, as well as current customers and suppliers. Now’s the time
to go after them. Reactivate dormant accounts and leads with new products, promotions and services.
Also, contact current customers for referrals. Give them ideas they can use to help their business in the
current economy, and they’ll be happy to pass you on to others who could benefit from your knowledge.
Measure your MROI (Marketing Return on Investment)
The problem with many marketing efforts is the inability of management to ascertain what
really works, and why. That’s why smart marketers always measure outcomes so they know
exactly where to invest for the greatest return.
The more you test and measure, the more relevant data you’ll get. And the more data you get – and analyze –
the smarter your marketing will get.
Controlling cost does not mean
cutting cost. It means being smarter with the budget you do have, and wringing greater
value from every dollar you invest in your marketing program. Closely related to MROI
(Point 5), controlling costs allows you to invest your money where it drives the greatest revenue.
For example, if your current customer acquisition cost is $148 through tradeshows, try to cut it to $100 –
or better – through aggressive telemarketing. Now is not the time to do something
“because you always have.”
Launch a targeted, integrated new-business campaign
Now is a
great time to launch a customer acquisition campaign. Strategically, set specific goals,
tight cost controls and strive to sell product and build brand. Target your best customer
profile, and speak directly top them with your messaging.
Tactically, developed an integrated campaign across different media, with a focus
on results-driven on- and offline direct-marketing techniques, as well as low or no cost
PR strategies such as speeches, articles in trade publications, and the like.
Reevaluate your marketing service relationships
totally satisfied with your current interactive, direct and PR agencies? What about
strategic marketing counsel? There are lots of smart practitioners out there, and many may
be able to give you greater insight, higher levels of service, and greater value for your investment.
Choosing the right partner is an investment that is critically important to your organization. Not only is
the expertise itself expensive, but the cost of investing your limited resources in the wrong areas
can be catastrophic.
Enhance customer service
Do you provide “bullet proof” customer service?
The cost of getting new customers is much higher than getting more business from existing customers.
To really grasp what your customers are worth, figure our their “lifetime value”.
Each customer you lose is taking that money out of your pocket over time. It’s never a
good time to lose a current customer. In a downturn, the cost is even greater.
Increase customer insight
The more you know about your customers, the more
accurately you can target marketing messages for your products and services to address their specific needs.
To do this, marketing executives need to get down in the trenches. Engage in direct contact with
customers through phone surveys, or ride along on sales calls. Conduct web-based surveys,
and promotions aimed at gathering opinions.