Few businesses enjoy predictable and continual stability. In some businesses, like tourism and retail, seasonal fluctuations are somewhat predictable but no less of a challenge to year-round sustainability. In other industries like high tech disruptive competitors can quickly have a negative impact on sales. The following strategies and tactics can help to boost short-term business demand during a downturn without significant cost.
Develop compelling offers to drive incremental demand
During downturns you need to be more flexible when it comes to profit margins. Adding special pricing or low/no-cost upgrades to your usual mix can generate needed short-term cash flow. It can also introduce long-time and new customers to products and services beyond their usual fare. Give your offer some creative thought to ensure that it stands out from your competition and delivers real value.
Tips for making special offers compelling:
- Limit the time period for the offering to create a sense of urgency
- Make your offer appealing and unique compared to what your competitors offer
- Create a sense of exclusivity by making the offer available only through specific locations or sales channels
Leverage owned media (social/email/website) for a low-cost boost
When downturns happen—whether they’re predictable seasonal slack periods or unanticipated slumps—owned media can provide effective and low-cost channels for giving business a boost. Unlike paid media outlets, your social channels, email list and website can yield results without a major cash investment. Once you’ve developed your strategy, message and tactics, there’s no big expense necessary to get the word out. And when done right, with a well-targeted, compelling message delivered seamlessly across all channels, it can be extremely effective.
Here are three reasons owned media should be your weapon of choice during business slumps:
- They’re quick to deploy and low cost, requiring only time and marketing savvy
- You have total control over your message and targeting (versus third-party referral sites)
- These digital channels are completely measurable if you set them up right and create relevant conversion goals
Focus PR efforts on bloggers and other short lead-time channels
PR can be another low-cost option for driving short-term business, but the long lead times of many traditional media outlets make them relatively ineffective for driving business in the short term. Focus your PR efforts on bloggers and relevant third-party social channels where your story can be shared in a matter of days rather than weeks or months.
How bloggers and relevant social channels can drive short-term demand:
- Bloggers and related social channels can introduce your brand to new audiences that can spread the word exponentially
- Digital outlets can respond very quickly and spread the word if they find your story or offer compelling
- A plug from a respected blogger or social channel can provide a valuable third-party endorsement that gives your business credibility with a targeted audience.
For more effective marketing, measure, calibrate, repeat
Remember to plan ahead as you develop marketing tactics to make sure you can measure their success and learn over the long term. Once you’ve measured the response to specific efforts it’s important to analyze the data, identify what worked and what didn’t, and adjust your tactics to do more of what works best. Then do it all over again in a constant cycle of improvement. A disciplined approach will yield ever-increasing returns and give you confidence in your marketing efforts. And when a business downturn happens you’ll know just what to do in order to generate demand.
How ongoing marketing measurement, analysis and calibration help during slack periods:
- Measuring to identify what tactics work best over the long term gives you go-to tools for generating demand when you need it
- Leveraging tactics you know are effective maximizes ROI when cash flow is tight
It’s common for business slumps to occur during periods of restricted cash flow. Keep these methods in mind and be ready to deploy them the next time you face a challenging spell.