Monday, February 25, 2008

Navigating an Economic Slowdown

Sales are slow, the checking account is getting low. You've got to cut costs and/or raise revenue. It's tempting at times like these to look at your ad budget for solutions. That's actually not a bad thing to do, but your aim should not be to reduce the amount of advertising, just the cost.

The last thing you want to do during a prolonged slow period is reduce or eliminate your public profile. People may not be in a buying mood today, but when they are, they are much more likely to head for the familiar. If you've been out of sight, you've been out of mind.

There are ways to stay visible and cut costs, especially when business is slow and you've got more time on your hands. Consider using doorhangers and newspaper inserts as opposed to direct mail. Use regional newspapers and organizational newsletters as opposed to the major daily. Spend more time attending networking events. Take advantage of events large and small where you can set up a table and hand out information and promotional material. Consider hosting a network event or fundraiser. Send out update letters with your regular invoices. Develop in-store or in-office advertising displays. You can also use any extra time you find yourself with to get around to those tasks you'd been putting off. Finish the website. Start the blog. Update the business card.

This is also the time to evaluate your product and service line and see what needs updating, replacing or eliminating. People love new stuff. Give them some. While you're at it, put anything new and different into a 100 word press release and send it to the local media. Follow up with a phone call asking if they received it and if it's something they'll consider running.

Don't think of a slowdown as crisis time. Think of it as half time. Review your past performance. See if there are lessons to be learned, adjustments to be made. Get ready for the next round. When they economy does come back, and you've got to assume it will (there is absolutely no point in assuming it wont), you want to hit the ground running. Don't get caught flat-footed.

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