Many Australian businesses are starting to experience the financial pressure of a recession. In times such as these some businesses "turtle" - they withdraw into a shell, cutting marketing and communications projects. Other businesses "go nova" - they spend up large on something, anything, just for the sake of being seen to be doing something. Neither approach is good for business. Marketing is more important than ever because customers are more important than ever. And the most important customer is the one you already have.
Studies show that the single biggest factor in determining whether a customer leaves or not is the presence of a proper customer-contact strategy. The number-one reason why customers leave can be summed up as "the company never talked to me"!
During this time your competitors will be doing specials, offering discounts, and doing giveaways in order to get new customers. If your clients aren’t feeling loyal to you and if you have given them no reason to do so, then they are going to be looking elsewhere.
The flipside of this competitive environment is that when your competitors fail (and some will) their former customers will be seeking new providers. If they can’t find you, or if what they find is unattractive, they’ll go elsewhere. Your business's public-facing information needs to be accessible and relevant. It needs to be highly visible to search engines and to the people using them (see my comment on "SEO and why you need it"). If potential customers can't find you, you may as well be turning them away.
Now is not the time to be cutting back on exactly that thing that lets customers know you're there - because your competitors might not be. Research shows that firms which increase their marketing spend during a recession actually grow significantly faster than firms that maintain or decrease their marketing spend. The important thing is to be judicious in your marketing efforts - don't throw away money on hare-brained schemes, and don't indulge in programmes or campaigns that can't be reviewed and monitored or effectiveness.
As we've said elsewhere on this site, keeping in touch with your clients and showing that you need them as much as they need you is paramount.
Kelly Wright firstname.lastname@example.org Head Chilli Chocolatier