This post comes from SBA.GOV’s Community Blog. The topic is timely, and we look forward to local comments.
Marketing to Customers in a Post-Recession Economy
by Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
April 17, 2012
The Great Recession officially ended in 2009, but it sure didn’t feel that way for most consumers (or businesses). Now, however, the economy finally is on an upward trajectory, with consumer sentiment, business hiring plans and employment data all looking up. Whether your company targets consumers or businesses, here’s what to keep in mind to successfully market to customers as their spirits rise and their wallets start to open again.
Take advantage of pent-up desire. According to Time magazine, one indicator of the improving economy is that sales of men’s underwear are up. During tough times, you see, consumers put off restocking even the necessities, like boxers and briefs. Whether you sell discretionary items like cosmetics and tablet computers, or necessities like underwear and copy paper, chances are your customers have been scrimping on it for the past few years, and they’re eager to let loose and buy.
Realize customers are still seeking value. A pent-up desire to buy doesn’t mean customers are going to go crazy with their budgets. During the past few years, businesses and consumers alike have learned to make do, do without, and shop around for the best value. Keep in mind that best value doesn’t always mean lowest price. If your marketing messages can show customers how your product or service will last longer, save them money or time, or otherwise make their lives easier, they’ll be willing to spring for it even if your price isn’t the lowest in town.
Focus on rewards. Customers don’t want to seem or feel overindulgent or greedy, but they do believe they deserve some reward for the past few years of scrimping, saving and sensible spending. Marketing messages that portray your products or services as a well-deserved treat, reward or indulgence will go a long way toward convincing customers to buy. Keep in mind, though, that since we’re just coming out of a recession, small splurges will sell best at first until consumers and businesses gain more confidence.
Prepare for change. With a shift in the economy underway, businesses and consumers alike will be more open to making changes in products, services and vendors. They’ll be ready to trade “make-do” service providers for ones that offer better quality, services or selection. That, plus the natural sense of renewal that spring brings, means now is a great time to work on capturing new leads and pursuing old ones you may have given up on.
Emphasize optimism. Americans are an optimistic people and we like positive messages in our advertising. Even fear-based products like burglar alarms sell better with positive messages (“Protect your family”). Show how your product or service will make the customer’s life, family or business better, stronger, happier. Use positive words and uplifting images. Coming out of a tough few years, people are ready to spend to achieve the positive.
Keep pace with technology. Consumers and businesses alike have become expert at seeking out the best products, services and prices using tools like mobile phones, tablets, review and ratings sites and local search engines. Make sure your business is taking advantage of this new approach to shopping by listing your business on search engines, rating and review sites, and optimizing your business website for mobile use so customers can find you wherever and whenever they’re looking for what you have to sell.
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She’s been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades.