Marketing Part 2: 9 Survival and Growth Strategies
By Craig Huey, president of
Creative Direct Marketing Group
Strategy #4: Take advantage of dropping marketing
Media spending is plummeting and we haven’t hit the
bottom yet. As a result, online and offline media
costs are dropping—and, in some cases, this trend is
likely to be long-term or permanent.
Here’s where you’ll have the most success with
The price of radio and TV time has seen deep
cuts—which may be why the ubiquitous Snuggie ads
aren’t confined to late-night TV spots.
• Media costs
• Postal discounts
• Media options
In addition to lower costs, you’ll find deals and
opportunities never seen before. For example, many
local newspapers, and even the Wall Street Journal,
are selling ad space right on the front page.
Strategy #5: Reevaluate your offer and make it
In this recession, consumers are hunting for the
best way to get more for their money. It’s critical
to update your value proposition so that it’s
powerful and preemptive: It should answer prospects’
questions before they ask them and overcome their
Remember, your offer is not about the product—it’s
about the prospect and what the prospect gets. The
strongest offers reinforce value. They focus on the
deal that the prospect will receive and present a
Here are three components of a successful offer:
1. A discount or price reduction. Right now people
are looking for value, and a discount is the
simplest way to deliver it. Just look at the most
successful catalogs, emails, and mailing pieces.
You’ll find discounts in every one, from consumer
retailers like J. Crew to B2B marketers like Thermo
Fisher Scientific. Even designer makeup and beauty
products are on sale, which is rare.
Convince prospects that they’ll be losing out on
something big without accepting your offer—recession
or no recession.
2. A premium. It’s a gift, a bribe, a strong
enticement: Add value by giving something away. This
can help you justify a higher price if you are
unable to offer a hefty discount.
3. A guarantee. Reassure your prospect that they
have nothing to lose. If you don’t have a guarantee,
now is the time to start one.
Strategy #6: Concentrate on your database.
For most marketers, 20 percent of your customers
represent 80 percent of your profits. Any
significant loss of this core group could mean a
serious hit to your sales, profits, and future.
Remember, it is always three to four times cheaper
to upsell or cross-sell an existing customer than to
acquire a new one.
That’s why you should implement these
• Upselling and cross-selling. Reevaluate your
current process. Are you being aggressive enough in
offering products or services that complement your
Strategy #7: Revamp your corporate website.
• Loyalty programs. It is more important than ever
to reward your best customers with extra perks to
keep them coming back. Creating an exclusive club
for loyal customers is also effective.
• Conversion series. If you offer a free trial, be
sure you have follow-up marketing in place to
convert these prospects to buyers. Many marketers
make the mistake of letting qualified, interested
prospects slip away easily.
• Retention series. Don’t wait around for your
customers to renew subscriptions, reorder products,
or come in for your services—remind them that it’s
time to buy again, and reinforce their decision to
purchase from you.
• Database lead management. If you don’t convert
those hard-earned leads to sales, you’re wasting
your marketing efforts. There are many software
programs and tools available to help you put
processes in place.
• Reactivation campaigns. Use your improved,
preemptive offer, complete with premiums and
discounts, to entice former customers to come back.
Craft copy that demonstrates why your product is the
best choice right now.
Static corporate home pages do nothing to encourage
sales or improve your results. Yet so many marketers
still rely on these non-marketing or anti-marketing
Instead, turn to direct marketing microsites and
landing pages: Individual websites geared toward
specific products and promotions. These sites use
only direct response copy and art to sell a product
or service. To improve efficiency and boost
response, they don’t have navigation distractions.
For example, you may want to create unique pages to
capture leads and sales, or develop a
product-specific sales page.
Strategy #8: Streamline your shopping cart to boost
It’s a fact: 7½ out of 10 online prospects will
abandon their shopping cart before completing a
Here are two big mistakes to avoid…
• Mistake #1—“Tombstone” carts. This is what I call
shopping carts without sales copy. They’re a
dead-end. Your cart should engage prospects,
reassure them that they are making a good decision,
and lead them right to the “Buy Now” button.
• Mistake #2—Multistep process. The more you ask
your prospect to click, the more sales you’ll lose
out on. A one- to two-page seamless checkout process
is more effective and efficient than a multistep
process. Prospects will be less likely to have
second thoughts and click away.
Above all, keep your ordering process simple.
Strategy #9: If at first you don’t succeed…test,
After you put your recession-appropriate USP to work
in your marketing, be sure to test its effectiveness
and tweak your approach as needed.
1. Direct mail. Without testing, you won’t know how
to improve your recession-revised covers, headlines,
and envelopes for your next mailing.
What worked last year is not going to work now,
because the business climate and market psychology
are completely different.
2. Google Adwords. Update and test your keywords,
headlines, and display URLs.
3. Email. Using last year’s subject lines will send
your response rates into freefall.
4. SEO. Update your keywords and check on their
placement. Make sure the critical benefits and
value-focused positioning appear within the first
5. TV and radio. Rates for prime airtime have been
dropping, so now’s your chance to renegotiate rates
and retest your options, such as time of day.
Opportunities for success are out there if you know
where to look.
Remember that your prospects’ spending patterns
change in a recession, but they’ll still be spending
Consumers may start to give up trips to the coffee
shop in favor of a do-it-yourself espresso machine.
Businesses may choose new software instead of new
hardware, or invest in extra tech support to avoid
an expensive technology meltdown.
With these strategies, you can turn this recession
into an opportunity for growth, profits, and greater
---Source: Craig Huey is the
Creative Direct Marketing Group (CDMG), a direct
response agency. Reach him at
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