|The key to managing your marketing strategy in these difficult times is to be more proactive and if possible reduce the costs of the marketing at the same time. Is this possible? The answer is a resounding yes. |
When times were good, marketing was relatively easy. You could, for example, put an advert in the local newspaper and wait for the customers to flock in. That strategy may not work today.
Marketing now needs to be low investment and high return and to be so different that the customer will actually acknowledge what you are doing needs their support. You could create a tipster marketing campaign that will get people talking.
Another answer is to provide what you do for free. I realise that many readers will probably not read past this sentence as they feel that providing their service for free will kill of their business.
A hairdresser in the UK, seeing his business decline, realised traditional marketing was not getting customers through his door. He needed to do something dramatic to get his business back on track. He decided to talk to his local pub owner and ask if he could provide free haircuts for the bar patrons for one hour. The answer was yes, the result was the hairdresser had a busy hour providing the free hair cut service. He made it clear that the offer was only available for a one hour period. At the end of the session he handed out business cards with details of his business and invited the patrons to visit his premises for a haircut once the pub was closed. He then enjoyed a drink with the patrons, most of whom paid for his drink as a thank you. His marketing campaign was a huge success and he is now enjoying trade in the recession while his competitors who are relying on the old true and tested marketing methods are still seeing their businesses decline.
What are the lessons?
If you want to get the message across when the customer does not want to listen, you need to dare to be different. Invest time rather than just money in finding out where else your customers go and how you can create a theatrical experience using your services and products in that new environment.
That environment could be the local pub, coffee shop, shopping mall, local service club or wherever. Once you have selected your venue, offer the customer something for free. When the wallet and purse is being kept shut, you need to offer something radically different to encourage them to open it again. |
Then you need to follow through. Our hairdresser put a time limit on the offer and had loads of business cards ready to hand out to the rest of the audience. Plus, he realised it was not the haircut, that created the buzz. It was how he did it. He saw that he was in the theatre business and that it was his own persona that he was selling, not the haircut. His personality was a key to the success of the marketing campaign.
He built on a number of key marketing strategies. First, he was relying on tipster marketing; people talking about him after he had left the scene. And he was making the local customers aware that he was a local business person that needed help; he was into neighbour to neighbour marketing which always strengthens in tough economic times. In addition, people will support innovators over complainers in difficult trading periods.
The challenge is what can you do to get your business into a situation where it will be noticed and customers will start taking about you.
John Stanley is a retail business coach, speaker and author. His specialist areas are store layout, merchandising, marketing and branding, meeting customer buying needs and service. Email John on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.johnstanley.cc