5 Tips on Marketing on a Shoestring

Slashing your marketing/advertising budgets today to save cash now surely will gut your market share when the economy turns around. It will force you then to spend much more money to make up for the customers you will lose by panicky penny-pinching now. Here are five pointers on how you can continue marketing in tough times:

Focus on reaching your likeliest customers.

Concentrate on true decision-makers. If a person on your mailing list lacks the mojo to okay a purchase when times are good, he surely will do so when the economy is stormy.

Invest only in media that makes sales.

You can’t track many purchases to “image” advertising. It may make people feel warm and fuzzy about your company and its products. But, these days, do you want friends — or customers? How many purchases does your PR agency deliver? Are costly shows and exhibitions worth their expense? Does the Little League team you may sponsor make your balance sheet healthier? Does radio advertising generate income? If you do not know, drop them.

Muscle up your direct marketing.

Nothing beats direct mail as a sales sparkplug better than personalized direct mail. It yields higher return on investment than any other advertising.

Use advanced mail techniques like personalized letters. They grab your prospects’ attention. They cost somewhat more than classical, one-size-fits-all mailings — but dramatically boost response. “Drip” direct mail — like a periodic newsletter on subjects that interest your customers — is an effective, low-cost way to keep your company actively in their minds. It is much less expensive than egocentric promotional folders. Print your promotional materials in standard sizes. The postal service loves odd-shaped and bulky mailers. It should — it charges a ton to process them. But your company, though patriotic, is not obligated to help the post office with its budget problems.

A consistent look pays dividends.

Test your mailings to find out which of them works best. Then demand that all your mailings share its appearance. That saves you pots of money, and boosts corporate and brand recognition.

Offer useful information.

Forget costly premiums. If you provide customers and sales prospects with information they find valuable, it will pay off handsomely. For instance, a mortgage company could offer home owners a white paper on “The top 10 home improvements that add value to a home like yours.” An accountant could advertise a free tax planner.

If you know your customers, you know knowledge areas that would interest them. Providing information they thirst for costs only pennies. And can pay off big time.

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