Even if the economy is not doing well, that’s no excuse to let your business fail. Here are some foolproof ways you can stay afloat during a recession.
The key to a strong business is being able to thrive, no matter what the economic conditions. It can be challenging to make sales when people aren’t spending money, but with a bit more attention to the following areas, you can make sure you not only stay afloat but also do well during difficult times.
1. Find New or Different Customers
If you’ve been gearing your products toward one market (let’s say high end jewelry buyers), a recession can shut that customer type down, and drastically reduce your sales. So consider other types of customers. Perhaps you can market your products differently to reach other target markets. Or you could create a more affordable version of your product that reaches a different demographic.
Brainstorm on ways to reach other consumers than the ones you have been selling to.
2. Improve Customer Service
Solid customer service always brings new customers, so make that a priority. Survey your existing customers to find out where you could improve what you’re doing in the customer service department, and make changes immediately. This could include:
- Adding staff to reduce phone service wait times
- Training staff to be more polite and efficient
- Adding social media customer service to your offerings
- Monitoring customer service calls to ensure reps are being polite
3. Use New Marketing Channels
There are always more ways to market than what you’re currently doing. Do some research to determine where your customers are hanging out. Is it Facebook? Twitter? Watching TV? Using these channels, add them to your marketing strategy to reach a wider expanse of customers.
It’s easy enough to train your marketing staff to incorporate more marketing tools in their work, but if it’s too much work for the staff you have, consider hiring more or outsourcing part time work to a marketing consultant.
4. Improve Your Product
Any time is a good time to improve your product, but if sales are falling short of expectations, there’s no time like the present. Determine how you can make your product more useful, more affordable, or more value-enhanced. Survey customers to see what features they’d like, or see if there are any issues with using the product currently.
If you’re unable or unwilling to reduce the price for your product, find ways to add value to it. That might be by bundling another product with it or offering savings on other products if one is purchased.
5. Work on Retaining Existing Customers
You’ve heard that it’s cheaper to get repeat business from an existing customer than to acquire a new one, so start working on it. Find ways to increase customer loyalty. Offer savings for repeat visits. A loyalty card. Personalized promotions. Email newsletters. The more interaction you have with your customer, the more willing she will be to give you more business.
6. Listen to Your Customer
The best marketing tool is to actually hear what your customer is saying. That might come in the form of a complaint or a compliment, but whichever way it goes, you need to understand that you’re being given a gift: the truth.
Engage with your customers through social media, email, blogs and surveys. Speak to them directly in your store. Find out what their needs, wants and pain points are, and then find ways to address them through both your products and your marketing.
The key to surviving and thriving in a down economy with your small business is to keep chugging away. Never stop marketing or developing your product, and make your relationships with customers your top priority.