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25 Ways To Recession-Proof Your Small Business

While there is no such thing as the perfect marketing plan, there are some things you can do to continue growing, even during a sluggish economy. Instead of throwing your hard-earned profits away on expensive display ads, implement as many of these 25 recession-proofing tips as possible and watch your sales grow overnight.

25 Marketing Tips To Grow Through Lean Times

Tip #1 – Work Your Past & Current Customer Lists: Depending on your business, it cost you tens to hundreds of dollars for each of the names on your customer list.  Combine this with the fact that the easiest sales you can make are those to your past customers, and this tip alone can help you get more sales today.

Create a special offer just for the customers on your list and send it out.  Be sure to include a call to action!

Tip #2 – Eliminate Your Ineffective Advertising: Ineffective ads are one of the quickest ways to sap your company’s cash.  Try some of these tips to improve your ads, hire someone to help or give them up altogether.

Test your ads immediately and focus on understanding your perfect customer.  By knowing exactly who these people are, you will have a better idea of which publications and media to place your ads.

Tip #3 – Follow Up On Your Offers: After each offer you send out, simply follow up with a phone call or email to see if the prospect received your offer.  Use this opportunity to provide some free advice instead of putting all the pressure on the prospect to make a purchase.

The phone can be your best friend.  Try to call 5 or 10 prospects a day to offer your advice.  Thank you letters are also a great way to keep in contact with your customers.

Tip #4 – Keep Following Up With Your Prospects: After each and every contact with a prospect, it is wise to make some effort to follow up.  Whether they have come into your store, sent you an email or called your office, get back to them as soon as possible to thank them for their interest.

Add Create processes for following up with prospects and customers.  This will save you time and energy and systematically help you follow up with everyone.

Tip #5 – Use Risk Reversal In Your Offers: In all transactions, someone has to assume the risk.  Typically the risk is placed upon the consumer, but watch your sales grow by taking the risk upon yourself instead.

Test out different risk reversal ideas with some of your best customers and see which ones they prefer.  Then roll these ideas out to all your prospects.

Tip #6 – Upsell After Each Of Your Sales: Any business can benefit from upselling.  In fact, sales often increase more than 30% just by asking someone who has just bought from you if they’d like to buy another complimentary product or service.

Create products or services you can upsell at the point of purchase if you don’t already have any.  You can also look into selling someone else’s products or services and earn a commission.

Tip #7 – Sell To Your Buyers Again: After you’ve made the sale, send another offer within the next three weeks.  A good percentage will buy again and you’ll develop a closer relationship with the rest.

Make your follow-up offers work for you.  Use this contact to allay buyer’s remorse, solicit referrals and include information that will help your customers use your products or services better and more often.

Tip #8 – Increase Your Profits With Endorsements: If you are doing you’re job right, your clients and vendors appreciate and trust doing business with you.  You can help them even more by endorsing other products or services that would improve their lives. You can also find other businesses that might be interested in endorsing your services to their lists.  Either way, work out a revenue agreement and enjoy the profits.

Look at the services you already use and trust and ask them if you can set up an endorsement campaign.  Handle as much of the work as possible so they can just collect their money and you’ll have a winning long-term deal.

Tip #9 – Use Your Competitors Resources: Finding qualified leads is expensive; converting them is even more expensive.  That doesn’t mean you can’t make a little money from the leads you don’t convert.  Sell them to competitors you trust and respect and know will get the job done the way the client deserves.

Add Figure out your average cost per lead then offer to sell your unsold leads for a price less than that amount.  If your competitors have a similar average cost, you’ll be doing them a favor.

Tip #10 – Offer Extended Guarantees & Incentives: Sometimes, the guarantee of a specific benefit or the addition of valuable incentives make the difference in the sale.  Put as much value as your product as possible and then back it with complete confidence.

Find out what guarantees and incentives your direct competitors offer and then match or surpass them.

Tip #11 – Lock In Your Sales In Advance: Just about any type of service industry have the ability to lock in sales in advance for consistent growth.  This way, you’ll also lock out the option of buying elsewhere.

Provide a portion of your services free up front in exchange for agreeing to continue doing business with you in the future.  You can also provide a lower-fee in return for an upfront payment.

Tip #12 – License Successful Concepts: Know something your competitors don’t?  You may not want to share this information with those in your direct market, but if it wouldn’t hurt you to share it with those in outside markets, license this information and market it to them.

Write a sales letter and mail it to businesses similar to your own in non-competing markets.  Be sure to entice them with specifics on how your process will improve their business.

Tip #13 – Break Even On The Front End: Do you know how much it cost you to make a sale?  Do you know how often your customers buy from you again? Do you know how long they continue to buy from you? You should. Only then will you know exactly how much you can afford to “buy” a customer.

Once you have calculated this number, give away your products or services at the lowest price you can afford and then proceed to provide constant customer service and satisfaction to increase the length and frequency of your sales cycle.

Tip #14 – Test Your Prices: Testing your prices will help you understand how valuable your goods are to the marketplace.  Many times, business owners shortchange themselves early in their business and never think to raise prices higher than their comfort zone.

Split-test your prices by creating multiple landing pages on your website.  Also, use Google Adwords to put your tests to a larger market.

Tip #15 – Reposition Yourself As An Expert: People love to be led and admire leaders. Learn as much as possible about your industry and act as a filter to provide valuable information and service for your clients.  Consumers prefer to buy from those they believe are the best at what they do.

Add Launch a blog on your website if you don’t already have one.  Use this space as your soapbox, but make sure you are bringing a new angle or you’ll risk looking like you’re following your competitors instead of standing out from them.

Tip #16 – Buy Lists From Closing Businesses: For a variety of reasons, many companies go out of business every day. These businesses may find it very beneficial that you’re interested in buying a customer list they may not have placed value in any more.

Use Google Alerts to keep an ear out for businesses quitting in your industry or market.  Then offer to split future profits made from their list with them.

Tip #17 – Decrease Your Overhead: Keeping your overhead down could be the key to staying in business and could be a huge “profit center” in and of itself.  Look for wastes and excesses in your business and eliminate them.

Sell off or trade excess inventory, trim unneeded staff, cut ineffective advertising from your budget and farm out overload work to other companies and/or share costs with them.

Tip #18 – Don’t Burn Your Bridges: Even when cutting staff or apologizing for a business error, you can use the opportunity to build that relationship.  Offer to hire the staff back when possible and provide referrals for staff and departing customers.  You never know who they know and it’s just good business karma to take the high road.

If there is a bridge you’ve burned, it’s not too late to rebuild it.  Give the person a call or send them a hand-written letter with your sincere feelings and ask them if there is anything you can help them with.

Tip #19 – Don’t Let Your Head Get Too Big: Even if you provide the best product or service in the world, other businesses are going to continue to try and entice them away from you.  Don’t assume you are the only option and you’ll increase your chances that you will be.

Make sure to contact your customers from time to time and ask them for their feedback and ask them if there is anything you could have done better so that you can do it better next time.

Tip #20 – Get Responses To Your Ads & Sales Letters: Use the AIDA checklist before paying for any of your ads or sales letters if they don’t pass this checklist, you’re probably wasting your money. Get your prospect’s Attention, follow that up by piquing their Interest by building upon their Desires and lastly, ask for a specific Action you’d like them to take.

Add Sending out a sales letter to a targeted group with a special offer on your excess inventory is a great way to make some money immediately.  Be sure to make your offer time-sensitive.

Tip #21 – Make Your Headlines Pull: Figure out what makes you, your product or your services stand out from the competition and then promote this information in a benefit-driven headline.  You’ll get much more attention this way.

Make sure to test your headlines.  Remember, your headline is the most important part of your ad, so spend some time figuring out the best ones.

Tip #22 – Analyze Your Results: The real gold is in the results of your testing.  Categorize and crunch these numbers and study their trends over time to maximize your future campaigns.

Create an Excel database of your advertising and sales letter campaigns.  Include the cost of each campaign, results, what was tested, the offer, what media you used and any other relevant information.

Tip #23 – Don’t Rely On One Source: Diversify your product or service line, who you advertise with, where you get referrals and your vendors.  Slow economic times have a way of shaking up the marketplace and it’s your duty to identify and work with the best.

Discover new niches that compliment your services.  By expanding your services to cater to these niches, you will create new streams of income.

Tip #24 – Get Your Customers To Give You Referrals: The “cheapest” way to get new clients is to have your current ones send them to you.  By giving you their stamp of approval, referrers are presold and highly likely to buy from you.

Create a referral system that benefits your referrers, too.  Make sure to recognize their efforts whether you make the sale or not and follow through on any compensation you may have promised.

Tip #25 –  Recognize & Identify Your Hidden Assets: If you’ve been in business for awhile, chances are you have some assets that you aren’t even aware of.  Do a thorough audit of your business to identify these assets and then brainstorm ideas on how you can leverage them.

Think outside the box or hire a marketing consultant to help you uncover the hidden assets in your business.  Develop these assets to create new streams of income and grow your business on a consistent basis.

Slow economies are notorious for shaking out the weak businesses in every industry.  Use these recession-proofing tips to make sure your company isn’t one of them.

Got an idea to help others market their business through these hard times?  Share them below.