Salesman-Post-Picture12Our public relations firm is often asked whether it’s smarter to market more aggressively during a recession or not.  Our answer is yes, mainly because economic downturns offer a unique opportunity to gain ground on competitors and pose the threat of falling back in the pack, especially when conditions improve.

Paul Lemberg, author of the best-selling business book, “Be Unreasonable,” offered some tips in a recent blog, which we have excerpted below:

1. Sell Harder
When money is flowing and customers are buying everything in sight on a whim, you don’t have to sell very hard. Hey – either they buy or they don’t. And if they don’t, there are plenty of other buyers, so who cares. But when customers are feeling the pinch they become circumspect about how they spend their money, and it takes more persuasion to get them to buy. Research shows that it takes as many as seven — even ten — “touches” to get someone to take action.

2. Narrow Your Focus and Broaden Your Lines
Prune outlying ventures and offshoots that aren’t really part of your core business. Narrow your focus and spend all your energy on strengthening the core products and services that contribute most to margin and volume. Next, make it easier for your good customers to spend more money with you. Figure out what related products or services they want and sell them those.

3. Spend More Money On Marketing
Most business owners “budget” for marketing, which only makes sense if you think of it as a cost. Instead, if you see marketing as a revenue generator you should be willing to be spend some defined fraction of that revenue to acquire yet more revenue. That fraction should be a function of your average customers lifetime value. If you follow tip 2 above, you will quickly increase your average lifetime value, and therefore be willing and able to spend more.

4. Make It Easier For People To Do Business With You
Recently I saw an article advocating that business owners toughen their credit policies. I was shocked. After all, if you thought someone was creditworthy before, why would you suddenly change your mind? And why on earth would you go out of your way to make it harder for people to do business with you? You should be doing just the opposite: make it easier.

5. Clarify Your Value Proposition and ROI
Who knows when the real recovery will happen. I don’t, you don’t, and they don’t. It doesn’t matter because people still need stuff and are always going to spend money. Maybe not as easily or as much, but they will buy and keep buying especially on things they see as valuable. What does that mean? Before you may have gotten away with a lot of fast talk. Now you have to prove your worth: spell it out; show them exactly how they will benefit — in financial terms and lifestyle terms.