Downturns in the economy are bound to happen. We find that our phones and inboxes usually explode with business owners (especially those in the trades) who suddenly find their sales funnel drying up. These can include roofers, electricians, plumbers, contractors, and other similar businesses. Unfortunately, businesses in the trade usually place their emphasis on doing the work instead of building the business. As a result, their lead generation goes down, especially during hard times. Below we will show you why you should actively market your trade in a recession, and even in good times.
How a Recession Effects Business
Effective and strategic marketing during a recession is not only possible, but it is key to making it to the other side of the period with your business intact and perhaps even a bit more profitable down the line. Plenty of opportunities exist to build customer loyalty and gain new leads, even in a time where fear is rampant among both customers and businesses. Remember that your services are still necessary, so now is not the time for knee-jerk decision such as crazy sales, markdowns, and the like. Recessions are temporary, and you are looking to keep your business going for a long time. Yes, you may see a dip in business, especially at the beginning of the recession. Use this time wisely to focus on your marketing.
The Benefits of Active Marketing
Businesses, especially those in the trades, must consistently market generate top-of-mind awareness – even if they don’t create a lead then and there. This type of active marketing can include:
- Updating your website.
- Posting on social media.
- Blog and content generation for SEO.
- Email marketing.
All these can give your business an enormous advantage unless your competition already does this or has a better grasp of marketing than you.
How to Actively Market Your Business in a Recession
Now that you know why to market, you must know how to market. Contact your current marketing agency to set up a meeting for their recommendations on moving forward in difficult times. Need a marketing agency? Shop around for one (we know a guy). In the meantime, here are a few things you can do on your own to get the marketing wheels rolling for little to no money:
These downtimes are an excellent opportunity for you and your trusted team members to review current and past marketing initiatives. For example:
- How much time and money did each cost?
- What was the total number of leads generated?
- How many new or returning jobs did each lead create?
- What was the revenue for each new job?
With this information, you can determine which campaign was least successful, which was most successful, and which is the best to dust off and reintroduce.
Update Your Website.
An effective marketing campaign will drive prospective customers to your website. Therefore, it is essential to ensure it is updated, displays well on all devices, and has numerous ways to contact you:
- Make your email, phone number, SMS, and even social networks apparent quickly.
- Consider having a website expert audit your website to ensure everything works fine.
- Remember that visitors to your site are impatient and are likely to leave quickly if the user experience fails to meet expectations, is overly slow to load pages, or needs to be more organized, making information hard to locate.
Post on Social Media.
Many small business owners, especially in the trades, tend to underestimate the power of social media. However, it can be an innovative tool. Let’s take the example of a plumber and a simple social media site like Facebook. One of your most common jobs is to fix leaks. Have your plumbers take images of their jobs, such as before and afters. Post them on social media with a short description of the issue, how you fixed it, and how long the entire job took. Posting regularly to social networks provides several benefits:
- No matter your few followers, your message will appear in their feed. As a result, they will think of you should they need the same work. It’s one part of building top-of-mind-awareness.
- Whenever anyone searches something like “plumber to fix a leak,” your posts to platforms like Facebook are far more likely to turn up in the results. Some small businesses don’t have a website but rely solely on social networks (we do NOT recommend this).
Blog and content generation for SEO.
Even if you are unfamiliar with Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), quality blog content can help you turn up more often in search engine results.
Need fresh content, hate to write, or don’t have the time? Consider hiring an expert content creator/writer to perform an interview and write the article for your blog. An experienced writer, often a member of an established marketing agency, will adhere to the best practices for SEO. These articles or posts are also very impactful in email marketing and social media campaigns.
Those of you with an existing email list should take advantage of it. Create a newsletters or routine touches, carefully timed, noting that you know a recession is going on. You sympathize with all those going through tough times. Likewise, you are there for them when they need you. The downtime that comes with a recession is also an excellent time to focus on building your email list and improving the content that goes out with it. In short, show them why you are the expert and why they should retain your products and services.
A sustained email marketing campaign is one of the most cost-effective, customer-effective ways to create and maintain top-of-mind awareness. This is what we call an engagement campaign. The subscribers already have some level of familiarity with your company and are proven to have an interest in your products or services. Best of all, a well planned and executed email marketing campaign can inspire subscribers to generate tons of referrals, bringing new customers to your door at lower cost than advertising.
Tap into Your Past Successes
Mining and prospecting for new customers is time and capital intensive. It also requires patience. But when was the last time you explored dormant customers, those people who did business with your company in the past but have not chosen to do so again, or not in some time? Reconnecting with past or dormant customers can be powerful in several ways. For one thing, you might discover why they went dormant. You can learn a lot with one simple, nonconfrontational conversation. Maybe there was a product or service issue they didn’t bring up (which you can now understand and correct). Maybe they misplaced your card (which indicates a lack of top-of-mind awareness; read the email marketing paragraph section above one more time). Or maybe they received an offer from a competitor (which allows you learn what those guys are all about).
Be prepared with a offer to get them back. That might be a discount or savings offer on their next purchase or service, or consider how you might provide an added service on their next purchase or service. They key is to have a conversation, learn a lot, and redevelop a relationship.
Conclusion on Why You Should Actively Market in a Recession
This sort of scenario is not limited to the trades but every SMB. Now is the time for retail, restaurants, consultants, accountants, and many others to get their 2023 plans in order and begin marketing their businesses. Of course, every business owner will feel pain in what’s ahead. The savvy ones will endure it better, though, because they will have a plan.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need help marketing your business in a recession.