While the economy is a little uncertain, your marketing plan doesn’t need to be. By fine-tuning your marketing strategy in 2009, you can maintain a strong voice, increase market share and be top-of-mind when the situation improves.
It’s official… we are entering 2009 in a recession. While many have felt the economic crunch for sometime now, the announcement made in early December sent more fear into the marketplace. Companies are tightening their belts to adjust to their 2008 earnings and 2009 projections. While some economists predict a bounceback in as little as six months, others state the economy will be slow into 2010. While pulling out of advertising completely is usually not a wise decision—the market will come back eventually and you don’t want your customers to forget about you—marketing efforts can be fine-tuned during tough economic times.
Search Marketing and Social Media
The advent of search marketing and social media has brought many cost-effective marketing measures to the forefront. As consumers continue to make more decisions based on online information, it is important your site can be found among the competition. The first step is to make sure your site is designed according to search marketing “best practices” and is optimized for search engines. From there, it is important to keep your site continually updated by posting current press releases, articles, white papers and other news. Adding a blog or podcast will help enhance your site and drive additional traffic. As budgets permit, pay-per-click campaigns are also a cost-effective measure in directing Web site traffic.
In addition to search marketing, many companies will benefit from social media in 2009. From Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube and Twitter, companies are reaping the benefits of these free opportunities. The most important part of a social media campaign is to ensure someone is in place to manage the process and monitor the message.
Now is the time to ensure your mailing lists are up-to date! While traditional postcard mailers are a great way to reach customers, HTML e-mails can be even better in today’s economy. The elimination of postage and printing costs allows a company to increase their frequency through e-mail. Assuming you can reach at least 85% of your contact list through e-mail, HTMLs are better if looking to trim your marketing budget in 2009.
There’s no such thing as free publicity… or is there? While public and media relations are often viewed as a “luxury,” the return-on-investment is typically valued at 10:1 or more. Third-party validation of your message becomes more crucial in a recession. Press releases and articles are not the only consideration—white papers and case studies also serve to open the door on publicity opportunities. Consider community relations opportunities and speaking engagements to become more visible to your audience as well.
advertising and collateral materials—Now is the time to fine-tune advertising and collateral materials through evaluating the true ROI. All advertising efforts should offer a strong call to action to encourage the audience to visit your Web site, call your toll free number or make the purchase. Frequency of message is usually more important than reach, so be sure to do one media well before moving on to the next. In considering your collateral materials, enlist the help of your sales team. One of your biggest marketing assets, the sales team can tell you what brochures or newsletters are needed most, which trade shows have netted the greatest results and which magazines your customers are reading.
Look for opportunities to speak to your customers at a one-on-one level to assist in relationship building and customer loyalty. Lunch-and-learns are a more cost-effective measure than trade shows for some companies, while hosting trade and association events is an effective means for others. Empower your repeat business by creating a loyalty program and reward your customers for their word-of-mouth endorsement through a referral program. Create a “buzz” to stay visible.