|Regardless of the industry, there is one question in the mind of most business owners: Is it the right time to promote your company or should you wait until the recession is over? When do we turn this recession around and grow our sales? To many there does not seem to be a rhyme or reason to it. Businesses know that running an ad or promotion will result in inquiries, but will that result in profitable business? Are they making the most of those inquiries? Most business owners agree that inquiries will be down and those inquiries are no longer resulting in a predictable sales result. They must make the most of those leads.
"There seems to be a lot of 'hurry up and wait,'" says a prominent kitchen and bath cabinet dealer in Los Angeles. "We have folks who would have purchased on their first visit in 2008, who are meeting with our kitchen designers several times and delaying their remodel. They seem to have the money but are concerned they will not have it by the time they install their kitchen."
So what can companies do to stimulate growth at a time when the buyers are skittish? I suggest they start by monitoring their marketing and promotional spending and tracking their leads and sales results. We have seen this pattern before in the 1980s and the key is that recessions are cyclical and this one seems to be coming around. There is a lot of pent up demand on the part of consumers as this generation is not used to waiting to enjoy benefits. In addition, we have seen consumer personal savings accounts increase from 0.5% of annual income in November 2008 to over 7% today. Many consumers can actually afford to spend more now than a year ago, but they need a reason to buy today and feel secure about that decision.
The key here is to recognize that the demand and desire is there and companies must systematically eliminate any hurdles keeping consumers from spending today. Lots of consumers want to purchase but are waiting for that proverbial "right time to buy." With home values in Los Angeles being reduced, home improvement companies have to speak to consumers who worry that their investments will not retain their value. Even high-end companies like Neiman Marcus are selling "value".
There is a way that companies can play an active role in pulling themselves out of the recession early. Don't fall into the rut of thinking that you can just lay low and outlast it. You have expenses and you have a staff to feed. You have probably already cut all you can and now is the time to expand your sales. The key is to make your marketing dollars count and track everything. Those investments that cannot be proved effective have to go, then replace them with better investments. Don't be afraid to try something new and mix up your media plan.
Guerrilla marketing and email marketing are cost-effective ways to enhance your media plan. As with adding radio to print advertising campaigns, adding online advertising to your traditional methods can enhance your results by 30% or more. If you are already spending money online, you need to evaluate your click through rates, bounce rate and page views to see how the leads are performing, and then tweak your website to better deliver those buyers. Seek and find a better investment and more creative ways to improve those results. You may also want to take another look at traditional media that has come down in price by up to 80% in some cases.
Whether you are a business-to-consumer or business-to-business vendor, you need to show your market why they should invest in your company today. Why shouldn't they wait? The answer to that question is the key to helping every company thrive after a recession. If you make a case that this is the best time to buy because it will either save the client more money or help them achieve their 2009 goals, you have found the golden key. If you can't make that case, you will need to rethink your marketing strategy.
For the best ideas on how to find your golden key, review the recent sales you've made and see why your most recent customers decided to buy in this environment. Typically you can see a pattern, and that pattern is the key to your 2009-10 marketing plan. If you get leads but are less successful on closing, there is probably a message you are not delivering that your market is waiting to hear.