It can be difficult enough to grow, expand and maintain a healthy business in a strong economy. When the market turns sour, it can spell disaster for the small-business owner conscious of cost. But a slower economy also offers opportunities for small-business owners to grow, outpace their competition and be stronger once the economic tide turns. Here are three simple steps you can take to keep your business expanding, even when the going (or growing, in this case) gets tough.
- Reward Customer Loyalty When looking to branch out, focus on your existing customers—they already know and trust you. The truth is that it’s easier and far cheaper to increase business from existing clientele than to rope in new prospects.
Offer your loyal customers new or additional products and services relating to an existing offer—then reward that same trust and loyalty by offering these services at a reduced rate. Also, consider offering discounts on existing services for the referral of new business prospects, in lieu of additional incentives.
- Get More Bang from Your (Marketing) Buck If you’re aiming to keep your sales soaring without significantly increasing your advertising expense, buckle down when it comes to negotiating with advertisers. Remember that economic downturns affect advertisers substantially, too. Use this downswing to your advantage and agree on a fair yet discounted price. If the price is set in stone, you might request a larger ad for the same money.
- Good Publicity on the Cheap Strike out and launch your own PR agency in the interest of your existing business. Combine the loyalty of your customers with a little marketing savvy and put together an e-newsletter. Offer tips, inside industry information and additional tools to your loyal customer base. Give your readers the opportunity to forward your literary calling card to friends. It only takes a handful of e-mail addresses and a creative copywriter, which your business might already have. Don’t think it will work? You’re reading one. Point taken?