Frankly, there are no secrets. Good marketing works in all kinds of economic circumstances.
So, the non-secret to marketing in a recession is this: practice sound marketing, paying particular attention to the rules and techniques of direct response marketing:
Start by understanding your market. Who are you already selling to and where can you find more like them? What do you know about them that will help you sell to them? What do they need most, right now? What barriers are preventing them from buying from you?
Devise some really good offers. A great offer should make a prospect feel like they would be crazy not to accept it. Discounts of 10%, 20% or 30% off are not good offers (good discounts start at a minimum of 40% ). Good offers are related to your products and services. Great offers hone in on exactly what the customer wants.
Free weight loss for 2009
Free snow tires
Free sunshine destination vacations
Free college tuition for your children
Of course, you’ve got to find a way to make the offer work – which is to say, to make it pay off for you.
Don’t write it yourself. And don’t use your ad agency. Hire the best direct response writers you can find, pay them what they are worth, fill them up with all the facts and figures you can muster about your business, your products and your customers, then turn them loose. Veteran direct response writers will take at least 3 weeks to come up with the right concepts and copy, and may well take longer. Sure, they can probably dash off something in a few days, but don’t rush them if you want the best results.
Get your message out there at the right time. This is a hazy kind of rule. Some products do have natural cycles – snow tires near the beginning of winter; bathing suits in spring, and so on. Others have no discernable right time, so you have to test.
And to confuse things a little, the right time could actually be the wrong time if something major happens in the world, or if something significant (good or bad) happens to your prospect: People won’t read what you say or buy what you sell right after a catastrophe such as Katrina; someone who’s just been laid off won’t buy and neither will someone who is over the moon about a raise. I’ve seen a great promotion succeed in 9 other markets, but flop in the 10th because of a snowstorm – people don’t buy when they are busy shoveling out their cars.
Fortunately, you can overcome the vagaries of timing by getting your message out often, to bridge over the inopportune times.