Direct Marketing Article
How to Market your Way out of Tough Times
by Patricia Fripp & David Garfinkel
There's gloom and uncertainty in the air, and most businesses are making a
terrible mistake right now in their efforts to ride out the tough times.
They're cutting back on marketing and waiting until the economy improves.
In an economy like this, cutting back on marketing is flirting with business
suicide. What you should do instead is increase your marketing without
increasing the amount of money you spend. This will not only protect you
from sales declines, but will also strengthen your business against the
threat of deep-pocketed competitors, who may see tough times as a great
opportunity to outmaneuver you and grab some of your customers.
How do you get more marketing bang for fewer marketing bucks? By using
proven lower-cost, higher-yield methods. Here are five sure cures for
marketing woes in tough times:
1. Get back in touch with old customers. It's all too easy to ignore
your old customers, but they are often your best source for new business.
Sometimes sending a personal note, making a phone call or inviting an old
customer to lunch is all it takes to rekindle a business relationship.
If you want to do this through direct mail or email, you can give old
customers a special "Welcome Back" offer - a freebie, a discount, or a bonus
when they resume doing business with you.
2. Offer prospective customers a free sample. This is an obvious but
often overlooked strategy that certainly can work for your business.
Everyone from grocery stores (who offer tidbits of food) to high priced
consultants (who could offer a free first hour) can use this strategy
effectively. Don't think it will work in the corporate world? Hmmm... ever
hear of a company called AOL?
3. Focus your advertising. Many businesses think "keeping your name
in front of the public" is a valid advertising strategy. It's questionable
at best, but it's way too risky and low-yield in tough times. Instead, make
sure your advertising is only in publications that reach your best
prospects, and - this is the most important part - make a specific offer and
call to action to get readers of the ad to call you.
4. Let your customers help you out. Business is always a two-way
street. Some of your customers who you've helped in the past will be glad to
return the favor. Often, all you have to do is ask. Two things you can ask
for: testimonials and case studies you can use in your sales presentations
Another way they can help you: by giving you referrals. And if you have an
influential customer who's appreciative of what you've done, ask that
customer to write and send an endorsed letter to others recommending your
business. Offer to pay for the printing and postage, and help with the
writing if necessary.
5. Give extra attention to high-integrity behavior. If you think
you're the only one who's a little nervous about a lot of things right now,
you're not. Recent tragic events have increased feelings of distrust across
the board. To set yourself apart in the marketplace, go out of your way to
conduct business in an especially trustworthy manner. Bend over backwards to
be fair about refunds and exchanges.
Do all you can to act in your customers' best interest, even if it means
referring them to a competitor (if you don't think you're the best choice
for what they want). High-integrity actions can hurt a little in the
short-term, but payback is remarkably quick and well worth any sacrifice you
may have had to make. If you get (or strengthen) a reputation for being
trustworthy, that can be the most precious marketing asset of all in the
About the Authors:
Patricia Fripp is an executive speech coach, sales presentation trainer, and
keynote speaker on sales, customer service, promoting business, and
communication skills. She works with companies large and small, and
individuals from the C-Suite to the work floor. She builds leaders,
transforms sales teams and delights audiences. She is the author of Get What
You Want!, Make It, So You Don't Have to Fake It!, and is a Past-President
of the National Speakers Association. To learn more about having Patricia do
her magic for you, contact her at
David Garfinkel has been described as "the world's greatest copywriting
coach." He's a successful results oriented copywriter and the author of
Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich, which shows you exactly how to
adapt proven moneymaking headlines to your business. Find out more about
David Garfinkel here: