By Paul Ciminelli*
Growing a Business in Tough Times
This article introduces five tactics small business owners can use to take advantage of tough times and grow their business during these times.
Growing new customers in tough times requires extraordinary efforts for business owners. Efforts during tough times pay off exponentially when money starts to flow. Here are a few positive actions you can take during tough times so you can fly high in the future.
1. During tough times, the talent pool for good employees is at its best. There are a great pool of underemployed talent looking for work. You will be able to find highly qualified if not over qualified individuals to fill existing positions in your organization. Use this time to search out the type of employees that can contribute to growing your business. We have been able to use very talented folks in engineering, finance, marketing and sales that were unemployed for no fault of their own. Use the skills honed working in other industries to improve your business operations. These employees know they have a better chance of getting a job if they are working so most are willing to work at a pay rate you can afford. Most are grateful to be working again and really pitch in to the company mission.
2. Companies that continue to market during tough times set the stage for future success. When cash flow is suffering, it may seem as though reducing marketing expenses make sense. View marketing and the results you achieve from it along a time continuum. If you reduce or eliminate marketing, you interrupt customer development for future business. Current customers question the stability of the organization. In addition, when competitors cut back on marketing dollars there is less clutter in the communication pipeline. You have a chance to have your message seen and heard by more potential customers.
3. Exploit technology to create a multi-pronged, efficient and agile marketing campaign. The new technologies offer very cost effective methods to get your message out to potential and current customers. Facebook is free and can be an effective tool for marketing. Twitter, text messaging and local commercial websites offer numerous free or very inexpensive methods for getting your message out.
4. Leverage relationships. I remember in the 90ís when successful facility owners started saying no to charities using golf practice facilities for hole-in-one competitions. Many owners believed that any extra traffic was not worth the disruption to their existing business. It may be time to relook at these type of cross-promotional opportunities. A well-advertised charity hole-in-one competition or miniature golf tournament can put your facility back on the map. If your staff welcomes participants to the events, you will get new customers. Smaller special events promoted by a church, scouts, social clubs will bring folks through the door. You provide a clean attractive friendly environment and let your promotional partner drive the traffic to you. In our industry unused capacity translates into revenue never generated.
5. Metrics, metrics, metrics. Every effort to grow a business will have a different level of success. As small business owners, we are so wrapped up in day-to-day operations it is often difficult to step back and assess the results of marketing efforts. Set aside time and establish methods for measuring the success or failure of marketing and advertising. When possible learn why you have lost customers. Figure out why repeat customers keep coming back.
Best of luck for a successful 2010 season. If you want to discuss some ideas you have for marketing or some success you have had, feel free to contact me at 800-597-3948 or by email at email@example.com
Originally posted by PaulCiminelli
on 27 Apr 2010.
All contributors: MarleneStone
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