Business advice

Times are even tougher for small business owners
May 14, 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Blogroll, Business Advice | Tags: , ,

You have to be under a rock if you haven’t read the news about our economy’s craziness. The stories overflow to every part of the newspaper. The economic slowdown seems to be on everyone’s mind. There was a whole section of the increase of food prices and how rice has become scare in the latest Business Week.

Small business owners are feeling the crunch. So the question is: who will stay afloat and who is going to close their doors.

The major issue is simple: can you convince your customers that they need rather than want your product or service. You may also have to rethink the major markets you target. I read several magazines dealing with direct marketing. I just came across a short piece saying that many are zeroing in on teenagers. Many teens have money to spend as long as times haven’t gotten so tough their allowances have disappeared.

There are certain products that consumers want, compared to need. These purchases slowdown when customers’ money gets tight. A good example is the ads all over television for new mattresses. We all know that if push comes to shove, a lumpy mattress problem can be solved by shoving a board under it. However, running an ad with a medical endorsement going on about how new mattress improves your sleep and health can put the ball back on your side of the court.

Eating out, car washes, high grade meat, vacations and a new wardrobe are all products and services that can easily become one of the things worried consumers will decide to do without for the time being. The substitution effect will take hold. Where can they get a product or service cheaper will be high on their priority list. Sales, enticements and constant marketing tools keeping you in front of your consumer is the only chance you have to keep him/her coming back during these trying times.

Keep in mind how much teens buy. They spend a ton of cash from allowances and extras they receive during divorce. Many have the ability to shop for their own clothes these days without resorting to bringing Mom or Dad along. Toss the idea around and see if you can find a way to add them to your market.

Product mix is also a key issue during recessions. If you are only selling appliances, you might consider adding refurbished models. If you decide to go that route, make a lot of noise about it with your marketing. You also might consider adding extended warranties as a part of the deal. Adding something to your product offerings is also a very legitimate reason for getting in touch with old customers to let them know about this change.

Finally, and not least. Don’t cut back on advertising. The only companies who stem the tide during slow times are the ones who continue marketing. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to trim the fat out of your marketing budget. Interns and teenagers can be good substitutes for fulltime employees for marketing tasks.

Keep your eyes on the economic measurements. They are all over the media. You couldn’t miss them if you tried; and keep a sharp eye on your competition. It will pay off in the long run.

For more samples of my work:

Laura Bell



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