Small Business success

Recession Proof Marketing Article by Nickolai Vasilieff, copyright © 2011. All rights

reserved. No reproduction or publication is authorized without written permission by the

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RECESSION PROOF MARKETING

Just when  you think you have it all figured out, everything changes. It

happened in 1819, 1837, 1873,1918, 1929, 1953, 1980, 1990, 2001, and it’s

happening again. Some call it a recession, some a depression, others

call it a consolidation. A time when the economy slows or shrinks,

businesses start closing, companies merge, and the market contracts.

To survive, almost all companies reduce expenditures. The most

successful of the survivors make wise, calculated choices about

reducing expenditures. In the series of articles I will publish in the coming months, I

will discuss how you can benefit from marketing, in a recession. Next to your

products, I consider marketing the single most important element of your

business, and one element that should be reduced with great caution.

In this first article I will first discuss Recession Proof Marketing, then focus on

one element – Free Press. As a marketing consultant and manager over the past 35

years, I have worked with large and small companies around the world. I have

always preached long-term, consistent, persistent marketing as the only form of

marketing that is truly effective. And, by effective, I mean creating awareness and

demand, and increasing leads and sales for your company. In keeping with this

philosophy, I have encouraged all my clients to continue marketing through both

the good and the bad times. Some have slacked off during good times thinking

their momentum would carry them, others have slacked off in bad times thinking

they couldn’t afford to market or there was no purpose in marketing when no one

was buying. In both cases my response has been – hogwash, balderdash, and

phooey! The best time for marketing is right now!

I have one question: If you stop marketing, where will your sales come from?

Think about it. Without marketing how will anyone hear about you? How will you

fill the prospect pipeline? How will you stay in contact with existing customers? The

Small Business Survival Newsletter ©

Because It’s a Jungle Out there ©

Nickolai Vasilieff

nick@vasilieff.com

answer is, you won’t. In fact, without marketing there will eventually be no sales. So,

first and foremost, in a bad market like we are experiencing today, I encourage you

to continue marketing. If you must reduce marketing, do it judiciously. Maximize

every dollar spent and maximize your ROI (return on investment) by focusing on

the most effective marketing vehicles and those that have historically given you the

best bang for the buck. Here are six simple suggestions for developing your

Recession Proof Marketing Plan.

First, concentrate on your current customer base – in other words, Make sure

you dance with the ones that brought you. I have said many times, “Your customer

database is gold. Use it.” Make sure you communicate with you current customers

on a regular basis. Make them special offers, keep them in the fold, and make sure

they know you appreciate their business and want to keep them as customers. You

can do this through emails, mailings, and phone calls. All these activities are less

expensive than bringing in new customers.

Second, focus your marketing on those potential customers in your database

who are qualified leads, and have not yet purchased. Again, this database is gold. If

you haven’t kept a good database of leads, start one today. It will become your gold

in the future.

Third, identify your primary market, and go after it. If you have a product for

the construction industry: do e-mailings, mailings, ads, etc. directly to contractors,

builders, and others in your target market. Identify those marketing tools that will

reach your market, and further identify those vehicles that have the best ROI and

use them on a regular basis.

Fourth, use Free Press. One of the most cost effective marketing tools is what I

call Free Press, including press releases, articles, user stories, product reviews, etc.

That get you in the news and in front of your customers. Later in this article I will

look more closely at Free Press and offer some suggestions.

Fifth, find online marketing tools that will give your product exposure.

Industry portal sites, online magazines, SEO (search engine optimization), (I will be

releasing an article on SEO in a few weeks), trading icon presence with other sites

(you show my logo, I’ll show your logo), and other creative co-op activities.

Sixth, keep active. Develop a plan that has something happening every

month.  Combine several activities (ads, phoning, emailing, postcards, PR, etc.) so

that at least one activity hits every month and keep it going. Remember, your first

rules of marketing are consistent, persistent, and long-term.

* * * * *

Now let me move to what I consider one of the most cost effective forms of

marketing – Free Press. Like most things in life, Free Press isn’t really free, because

you have to pay to create it, but it’s as close to free marketing as you can get, and it

can produce strong results. In this category I include

Press releases

User profiles, success stories, and other articles

Product reviews

These materials can be created in-house, or by hiring an experienced

professional writer, and sent out to dozens of hard-copy and online publications.

Why, you may ask, would a magazine publish your material? Because, magazines

are in business to furnish information to their customer base, and if your

information is relevant to their customers, and well written, they want to print it.

Magazines typically average about 50% editorial and 50% advertising. That means

a magazine with 50 pages will have to fill 25 of those with editorial. They don’t want

to write everything, so they use what you write. Trust me, if you produce good

copy, they will print it (emphasis on the word good). Online magazines might be

slightly different in that they may have more editorial, which only means that they

need more material from you.

So, what is good copy? It varies, depending on what your writing, but here are

some basic guidelines.

Writing in general – Your writing must use good grammer. You’re typically

writing for educated professionals who read to gain insight or information, and they

care about what they read. Bizcom.com sites several statistics that emphasize the

importance of writing, including: “An incredible $225 billion is lost by business

each year because of poor reading, writing, and math skills.” If you want to have

your work published, use a professional writer and be sure you have someone

proofread and edit everything for grammar and punctuation before it is sent out.

Press Releases – are intended to inform your market about significant events

related to your company or products. The subject doesn’t have to be earth shaking,

but it does have to be important to you and your customers. It can be as simple as

adding new employees or moving offices, to as complex as a new product release.

The key is to make sure it is really news. Adding a new feature to an existing

product can be considered news. Bringing on a new client can also be considered

news, if the client is well known in your industry. But, reorganizing your office, or

making a sale to a small unknown customer is probably not news. Another

important element of press releases is how they are written. They are not stories,

they are facts. Stick to the subject and keep it short Usually they are 2 or 3 pages at

most, including company history, contact information, and one or two

photographs. They are not advertising, do not try to sell your company or product

in a press release. Finally, include images related to the subject. Magazines like

photographs. And, proofread everything before it is sent out.

User Profiles or Success Stories – Throughout my career I have worked with

companies to create user stories. I do this by interviewing a company who has used

your products, then writing an interesting article about their project. It is important

to note that this is a non-fiction story about the client, and how they used

technology or some innovation to their benefit. It is reporting with a flair. Unlike a

press release this type of writing is considered creative non-fiction and must tell a

story. It is not an advertisement for your product, so you must skillfully weave

product information into your story. Many companies produce articles that simply

focus on how a client used their product, and have found that magazines are not

interested. The reason is that magazines want to publish articles that enlighten their

customer base to new and innovative ways to do business, and they want articles

that tell a story.

A successful article will focus on a specific project, and include not just the

products of your company, but all the products and processes that were used on

the project. The article will also highlight the benefits to the user, and how those

benefits translate to the industry in general. In addition to being published in

industry magazines, articles can be used in company brochures, newsletters, on

your company’s website, and as handouts or mailers.

If written well, articles are one of the best marketing tools because they carry

the weight of a customer recommendation. But be careful. If they are not written

well, they will never get published, and if a poorly written article is published, it will

do more damage to your business than good.

I should also note that although many magazines will publish company

generated articles, some magazines will not. If you have a specific publication you

want to publish an article, contact the editor and ask if you can submit an article for

publication. If yes, than generate your article. If no, ask if they would be interested

in writing a story about your client. As with all submission materials, always include

pictures.

Product Reviews – are often created by magazines from interest generated by

press releases. But, in some cases, a company generated product review will

prompt a publication to either print your review, or conduct their own review, using

your material as a foundation. As with any article, it must be well written, and be

proofed thoroughly. Like a press release, a product review must stick to the facts,

and not be an ad for your product. They should be as objective as possible and

must include both positives and negatives. Obviously you don’t want to bash your

own product, but if there are features missing or glitches in performance, they must

be noted. It is perfectly permissible to include comments about how and when they

might be added or fixed. Finally, if this is a new release of an existing product,

include a comparison chart highlighting the new features and their benefits. If it is a

new product with significant competition, you might use a comparison chart to

highlight the product’s features. Oh, did I mention pictures? Include them with the

article.

Frankly, it’s easy to stay in business during the good times. It takes  something

more than luck or good fortune to be successful during a recession, and

we are certainly in a recession. So keep marketing. Use the tips I’ve

included in this article, focus on free-press, and keep yourself in the

market. The recession won’t last forever, and if you maintain your

marketing efforts you will fare better than your competitors during the recession.

When the economy picks up, you will be the first company your customers and

future customers contact when they need your type of product or service.

For PR and article samples, or more information visit my website at

www.nvasilieff.com. If I can be of assistance in any way, please contact me at

nickv@nvasilieff.com.

For more information visit my website at www.vasilieff.com. If I can be of

assistance in any way, please contact me at nick@vasilieff.com or my representative

Cheryl Teigen at Third Party International, Inc., cherylt@thirdpartyintl.com 800-

417-8909.

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