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Four Ways to Keep Business Flowing During a Recession

Yes, we’re in a recession. But people and companies have not locked up their wallets completely. If you keep your wits about you, you’ll ride out the recession just fine.

Four Recession-Fighting Marketing Tactics

1. Emphasize the value you provide. Whenever possible, position your offering as an investment rather than an expense – not necessarily by using the word “invest” but by making it extremely clear how and why the customer will be better off having bought your whosiewhatsit. For instance, suppose you sell a weekly menu service that provides
recipes and a shopping list for wholesome family meals. Instead of allowing the consumer to think of this as a luxury (after all, they can do this on their own, without paying for it), explain why subscribers are able to stretch their food budget while serving their families more healthful, delicious and varied meals. Explain the hidden costs of grocery shopping on impulse or with a flawed shopping list.

2. Make sure clients are happy with what you’ve done. Create some sort of feedback routine in which you give every buyer the opportunity to tell you what went wrong – or right – with their purchase. If someone gives negative feedback, fix the problem immediately. Do not tolerate shortcuts or shortcomings! Reputation reigns supreme when people are concerned about spending money on something that may not work as advertised.

3. Create special offers. Instead of a long “a la carte” menu of products or services, or an indefinite invitation like “call us and we’ll figure out how to meet your needs,” put together specific packages of what buyers receive with a special price for a limited time. For instance, a spa could promote a Get Ready for Summer Special, good through June 14. The deadline and a clever name for the offer both help motivate customers. To avoid training your clients to hang back and wait for a discount, try adding irresistible
bonuses like a free MP3 player or “two for one” coupons at a local restaurant rather than cutting prices.

4. Contact inactive clients. According to copywriting guru Bob Bly, simply by calling past clients to say hello and to find out what’s going on in their business, you’ll get an average of one out of ten giving you a new assignment because you showed up in their awareness at an opportune
time. “Don't call up and say, ‘I'm not busy and need work right now; do you have any assignments?’” he warns. If you’re not the “just wanted to chat” type, a good excuse for getting in touch is “I’m calling to get an update on the results you had from the last project we did together.
How did that work out?”

To paraphrase a famous saying of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nothing can pull your business down without your consent.” You have a choice about what attitude and actions to take. If you refuse to adopt the mindset of those running around right now like Chicken Littles, you will be able to look
back on the era of gloom and doom with a smile on your face and a big bankroll in your pocket.

Master marketer Marcia Yudkin, author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and 10 other books, has been selling information in one form or another since 1981. This article is excerpted from her report, “33 Keys to Thriving During a Recession,” which is available as a free download from


As Harvard Business School professor John A. Quelch noted recently, "It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share, and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times."

G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón
Business Week

Advertising During an Economic Downturn

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