All the news these days is “the economy.” And for good reason. Things don’t look that great from a number of perspectives. While the Representatives and Senators work things out, there are things that you can do right in your own home and business. (Yes, this has a little bit to do with advertising & marketing, so keep reading.)
AT HOME: Things you and your family can do to help your own personal economy.
- Don’t stop giving to your church or your favorite community association. They will be there for you, not if, but when, you need them. It’s during tough economic times that non-profits really suffer. If you can’t afford to give the same amount as usual, cut back a little and give more of your time or talent. If you cannot give any money, give more of your time. You’re heart will feel good. And they will benefit rather than suffer.
- Watch your spending. You’ve heard it said before, “It’s not about how much you make, but about how much you keep.” The woman who makes $100,000 and spends $97,000 on stuff, is not necessarily any better off than the woman who makes $30,000 and spends $27,000. They both net $3,000 at the end of the year. Far too often, however, the person who spends more, is spending it on credit, financing the purchases, and therefore has a longer-term, higher cost.
- Keep track of where your money goes. Use Quicken or Money on your computer, and track how much is going to Starbucks and how much is going to Macy’s. By knowing where your money goes each month, you’ll better know where to make easier cuts when things are feeling a little more tight. (But try not to cut your donations of time, talent and money to non-profits.)
- Reduce the UN-necessities. Lawn service. Maid service. Car detailing. Gambling. Alcohol. Perhaps rather than weekly, go for bi-weekly. Or instead of bi-weekly, try monthly. Play around with it and see what’s most comfortable. At the same time, tell your vendor, “I have to cut back on your service, but I would like to recommend your service to my neighbors. Please send me some business cards and brochures that I can pass out to them with a personal note.” Your vendor might actually benefit from your cut-back!
- Buy a gently used item. If millions of people buy used cars every year, why not buy a used dining room table, or a used bookshelf, or a used lamp? Besides the fact that these items are usually 25-50% of their retail cost, you can find things that appear virtually new. A friend of mine who happens to be a church pastor recently bought a virtually new, contemporary leather sectional couch for $500. Check out craigslist.com
- Get it for free. Why buy a book if you can borrow it for free at the library? Why buy garden bricks and soil (or almost anything else) when people are trying so hard to give it away for free on freecycle.org?
- Entertain yourself by Volunteering. Skip the movie theater and the high-end restaurant. Skip the ball game and the mall. Instead, contact a local non-profit and ask how you can get involved with an upcoming event. You’ll have fun, meet some new friends, and develop long-term, feel-good memories.
- Ask for a cash discount. Many small stores that take credit cards are paying the credit card companies 1-3% for each transaction. So ask the store, “Will you give me a 2% discount if I pay you cash? You’ll make the same amount of money, and I will be happier!”
AT YOUR BUSINESS: Things you and your company can do to preserve long-term revenue during an economy dip.
- Advertise essentials and things people need. If you sell bar soap and also fancy purses, market the soap. In a bad economy, we all need soap. We don’t need fancy purses. If you market the soap, the customer may come in to buy the soap and then see the purse and want it, too.
- Give a free item with a purchase, rather than discounting your regular prices. Which of these is a better deal? 1) “These shoes are 50% off” or 2) “Buy one pair, get one pair free.” The fact is that the price of each pair of shoes is the same. But at the end of the day, if you give away a free pair of shoes, the sale price on the receipt will be the same total dollar amount as it has always been. That will help you get the regular price in the future when the economy improves. However, if you give me a 50% discount now, I will expect a huge discount from here on out, and getting me to spend 100% later will be a much more difficult sell. No you don’t have to give away 2 for 1 deal all the time, but any gift with purchase adds value in the customer’s eye. “Buy dinner and get a free appetizer” is an example of a good deal.
- Don’t stop advertising, but do a better job of targeting your advertising, especially to your previous customers. In a tougher economy, many businesses stop marketing themselves in an effort to save money. The brand disappears from the TV, radio, Internet, etc. People almost forget about you. Imagine what would happen if your competitors stopped advertising, but you continued — you could almost become the king if your category — just from grabbing top-of-mind awareness.
- Thank your past customers and let them know you appreciate their business. Even in a tougher economy, they will want to continue doing business with you and feel comfortable knowing that they are doing business with an established, long-term company who can withstand tougher times. That equals referrals, and more business.
What do you suggest? Feel free to leave a comment or write to info [at] faithinmarketing.com