10 top recession marketing tips

Recession marketing, bootstrapping, call it what you will. These are difficult times as business buyers shop around for the best suppliers offering the best all-round deals.

The Marketing Assassin blog was spawned in the recession and was a response to the excess and confused marketing that blights our profession.

Most companies don’t have seven [six, even five] figure marketing budgets and can’t count on award winning agencies, so they have to be targeted and smart.

Here is a quick fire list of ten things you should be doing to ensure you give your business the best chance of success, whilst at the same time restricting cost.

1. Apply a metrics-based approach to every marketing project. If an activity doesn’t fit with a business objective, stop it immediately. This is especially relevant to costly advertising plans and trade shows.

2. Cancel magazine and news subscriptions and set up Google Reader RSS feeds and Google Alerts. If articles get placed, buy print quality PDFs and reprints for marketing purposes, it will be cheaper in the long run.

3. Tap into freelancers rather than bulking up on staff. The recession has created a huge and experienced community of talented but displaced creative individuals that can be brought in on short term projects. Use them as required in stead of taking on additional headcount cost.

4. Move any new employees and kit to the ‘cloud’. Consider using free Google docs rather than costly MS Office.

5. Visit your most profitable customers and tell them how much you value them. Create reasons to talk to them and see them more. Present some insight, fresh ideas, act as a connector by facilitating introductions to other clients.

6. Engage / re-engage customers via email. Send an opt in email suggesting you will contact them quarterly and showcase latest work, ideas, industry trends and insight. Remind them what you excel at, and advise them of any changes, improvements and news. A simple html email designed and delivered through a service like Dotmailer will suffice.

7. When you cut back or cancel your advertising plan (point 1), use measurement  as an excuse and adopt a PR based approach instead. PR has longer legs and supports leadership and credibility objectives – essential in the b2b sale.

8. Use existing content. Give lots of presentations? Repackage and host on Slideshare. Add a audio commentary and captions and post to YouTube. Recreate PR as blog posts and white papers. Produce best practice presentations for use as webinars. In essence adopt free to use social media techniques, but the right ones for your business.

9. Use Linkedin. A global network of 80m (stats vary) business people means your future customers, suppliers, freelancers and recruits are all there. Use search filters available for free from the home page.

10. Feed all news, blog content to your website home page to bolster SEO, to your Linkedin company profile page and to a Facebook business page. If you don’t have one of these, set one up, if for no other reason than SEO. (More on Facebook for business in upcoming posts, bookmark the blog now).

Most businesses are working on reduced budgets in 2011 yet have to deliver more just to stand still. Give yourself the best chance by being focused on critical objectives, removing unnecessary cost and stimulating demand in your products and services.

Images: Michael G Holmes, Craven Publishing

A marathon, not a sprint

I’m in training for the London Marathon on 17th April, 2011.

This involves getting up early three mornings a week, running before my kids wake up, and before a long day of work, and then running an ever longer circuit each weekend.

A sixteen week lead-in doesn’t give much time to go from comfortably running 10k’s to completing the world’s most prestigious 40k. (I blame adidas for giving me a free competition place – after I thought I’d failed to make it this year!)

What is critical is ensuring the body and mind are in the best position possible come race day. A former client and marathon runner once told me that completing a marathon is in the mind, not the legs, so hiding behind the excuse of ‘not having the legs to run a marathon’ is a mute point.

That said, I’m taking the time to steadily increase stamina and distance covered so my body is ready for the demands it will be put to, and am also concentrating on the important nutritional aspects to ensure it is given the best chance of success in terms of preparedness and recovery. All with an end goal, and target finish time, in mind.

This got me thinking about business. How many companies actually have long term objectives in place when putting their promotional marketing campaigns together. Sure, campaign objectives will be set, conversion metrics measured, sales and profitability analysed.

But where is your company headed? What does it look like in three years time? What are you selling? Who are your customers? Who is working for you? Do they know where you’re headed and what it looks like? Do you have an exit plan?

If not why not? Business is a marathon not a sprint, and having that clear end goal in mind keeps you focused on doing the things required to move closer and closer to achieving it.

Image: The Telegraph

Principles of marketing 13: Evaluation

Though evaluation typically comes at the end of a period of activity, the process involves benchmarking against preset key performance indicators which are set in relation to objectives at the beginning. If you haven’t followed a robust planning approach, your evaluation will unfortunately be sketchy at best.

Encouragingly, the digital revolution has extended the ability to evaluate activity such that weblogs, analytics programs and other automated controls can be used to immediately and powerfully inform marketers as to the success or failure of an activity and help to pinpoint where corrective remedy needs to be focused.

You can track enquiries, registrations, sign ups and log ins on your websites and from emails and other marketing. (Use of targeted campaign specific landing pages helps to track all advertising, direct marketing, social media and PR traffic).

You can more specifically track and calculate return based on visitor numbers (unique and return over time), enquiries, conversions and terminations. Monitoring terminations and what lies un-purchased in online baskets allows you to contact them or refine your online ordering to make it easier.

It goes without saying the main KPI is to evaluate against revenues i.e. same or more from existing customers, new customers or new products and services to both existing and new customers.

Duration of time spent instore/on your website are good ‘soft’ barometers of interest, as are the running of recommend/send to a friend features which encourage word of mouth – again all tracked back to a specific landing page / log in.

I make no apology for keeping it simple – it’s what this blog is built on. Companies and global brands spend millions tracking brand mentions on the web, tracking their brand position, brand share, brand equity and lots of other stuff. Good luck to them.

Ultimately, the name of the game of evaluation is to keep doing the right things right and to stay profitably in business. With the pressure of new business in the current economic environment so stark,  maybe ensuring you have the same customers next year that you had this year is the best place to start?