Face Today’s Challenging Economy Using Creative Thinking and New Approaches

2008 promises to be a challenging year. With the economy in a recession, marketing dollars are certain to be tight. But don’t hide behind a full calendar of meetings, planning sessions, and budget reviews. Use this economically-challenged environment to stimulate creative thinking and new approaches to your marketing efforts.

Replace reach with relevancy
In the past, businesses spent their advertising budgets trying to buy reach. “Hit them over and over”…that was the name of the game custom printed mailer boxes near me . The rules have changed now. Americans have gotten really good at tuning out unwanted messages and our kids are even better; they’ve been multi-media tasking since they were practically in diapers. It’s pretty common to watch my daughter working on homework on the computer, a YouTube video waiting in another window, the iPod in her ears, her right hand texting a girlfriend and her left hand instant messaging on AOL. Ring, ring….and there goes the phone.

Now more than ever, your message has to be right on target with what your prospect is interested in seeing, hearing, or reading about. You have to spend considerable time, learning about the market and crafting a message that will break through their wall of distraction. How do you do it? See #4 below.

Get outside the box
Traditional media still holds a place in my heart. But it’s not the only game in town anymore. Yes, you’ll probably do a radio spot to promote an upcoming event or new offer and sometimes you must use a traditional media piece to drive prospects to your web site. But stop and think, it’s much less expensive to drive them to your site when they are already on the Internet. And what would you rather have them do? Spend a second on your direct mailer or a few, solid minutes reading your web pages?

Pay per click, search engine results and on-line ads are relatively inexpensive compared to larger mailers and print ads. With over 1 billion people on the Internet, you can bet some of your customers are regular users and if not… just think…today’s teenagers are only five or so years away from being your future customers.

Focus on the brand experience
In a tight economy, your customer is going to focus even more on the experience they have with your brand. They’ll ask, “Was the money I spent really worth it?” Now’s the time for you to take a moment and reflect on whether all the aspects of your product or offerings are really top-notch. Can your packaging be improved and made more convenient for the customer? How efficient is your call center, or the “front lines” in your CRM model? Are there processes in place to ensure that all callers can speak to a live person and get their questions answered in a timely manner? Is your website just simply an electronic brochure or does it create an outstanding user experience? Does it capture valuable data to improve your marketing efforts and future dialogue with the customer?

There is nothing more important than your brand image. Make sure you are continuously exploring new, improved ways to better the customer’s experience. It’s really rather simple…just ask. Beyond expensive marketing research, find efficient and effective ways in everyday customer interaction to ask how you can do better. Then, just make sure you listen.

Use your data
Granted, data isn’t the most exciting topic for a marketer. But it’s not fool’s gold either; it’s the real thing. Your customer or contact data such as their e-mail, phone, address, past purchases, etc. is now a coveted treasure. Don’t lock it away on the accounting department’s server. Hook it up with some state of the art data analytical tools. Discover the characteristics that make up your most profitable customers. How often do they buy, what type of services do they buy, how do they buy? Use your data to discover what your next big opportunity may be and link your data with other systems: CRM, ERP databases, content management, campaign management, and other data systems.

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