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5 Tips to Recession-Proof Global Marketing

Laurel Delaney

How do you keep your sales strong in a sluggish economy? Nowadays, marketing seems to be a matter of building a better mousetrap and offering it to customers at a lower price and hoping like heck they have mice! But there are always things you can do that will keep you posting higher sales and profits regardless of the economic climate.

This is recession-proof global marketing: Instead of waiting for the recession to end, you need to take aggressive measures now to insure that you will come out of it stronger than before. Companies that do well during an economic crisis are proactive, not reactive. They seek out new opportunities and respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. Here are five recession-proof tips to use in your global marketing efforts:

1. Offer something that will provoke a heartfelt "It's about time!"

If you are hearing the same complaint over and over wherever you go — and you'll hear complaints aplenty during a recession —then it's time you listened. See if you can create a product or service to solve a problem, satisfy a need or add value. These innovations extend product life cycle, expand the marketplace and open consumers' imaginations. In a high-pressure marketing climate, you will need to improve your existing product or get creative and come out with a new one.

2. Great sportsmanship pays off.

Be always on the "outs" with your competitors. This doesn't mean being hostile or underhanded —it means out-servicing, out-performing, and out-lasting them. Be a clean but keen competitor. If your customer says, "But Bob can get me this same product for 10% less," then say, "That's a tempting package. Let me look into it and see if I can match it." This buys you time to study Bob's game, i.e., check out how he's able to make this offer, and put together a winning counter-offer. The next day you can tell your customer, "Bob's prices are 10% lower, but I can give you a satisfaction guarantee, a special trial offer and a higher-grade product than Bob's." Your customers will be assured they've got an excellent deal, and you'll win their business fair and square.

3. Make yourself available.

Be here, there and everywhere —that's what gets and keeps the business. Attend the dinners and socials, show up for the sales meetings, participate in community affairs, return phone calls and emails, send noteworthy clippings, volunteer for charitable efforts. Keep yourself exposed during the slump, and when the economy picks up your customers and suppliers will think of you first.

4. Keep in touch.

Don't let your communications fall off when business is slow —if anything, step them up. If you've been communicating once a month with key contacts, increase it to once a week. Keeping at your business operations when nothing's happening shows your character and commitment. We always remember the friends who stand by us when the going gets tough, and business relationships work the same way. If you keep letting your customers and suppliers know how valuable they are to you during tough economic times, you'll reap the rewards when things improve.

5. Dare to be different.

Cut loose and do something wild. Show some energy! Look alive! If you were offered the same product at the same price by salesperson A and salesperson B, but salesperson A gave a presentation that made you smile, who would get your order? Put a sense of fun into your global marketing efforts. Send eye-catching subject lines in your emails that add spice to routine communications. Phone your customers once in awhile so they can hear your voice and know they're dealing with a human being. Send flowers with your product catalog tucked inside. Have a friend take a goofy photograph of you toiling up a sunny hillside with your product strapped to your back, caption it with something like "Things are looking up —thanks for your business!" and mail it postcard-fashion. Good will and good humor keep us all going, especially in a poor economy —so don't be afraid to get a bit wacky. It will capture your customers' attention and set you apart from the crowd.

Recession-proof global marketing means making your own opportunities and laying the groundwork for your own future prosperity. It all boils down to being ten times as persistent and creative as usual, and taking charge to shape your own global marketplace. So don't be cowed by grim economic reports. Be bolder than ever. You'll not only survive —you'll flourish!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com and its wiki community. She is also the creator of "Borderbuster," an e-newsletter and The Global Small Business Blog, which are both highly regarded for coverage on global small business. She can be reached at ldelaney@globetrade.com.

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