Recession Marketing Part 2: 9 Survival and Growth Strategies
By Craig Huey, president of Creative Direct Marketing Group

Strategy #4: Take advantage of dropping marketing costs.
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 cost-cutting negotiations:

• Printing
• Media costs
• Lists
• Postal discounts
• Media options
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.

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 preemptive.
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 objections.

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 get-more-for-your-money image.

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.
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.
Convince prospects that they’ll be losing out on something big without accepting your offer—recession or no recession.

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 customer-retention strategies:
Upselling and cross-selling. Reevaluate your current process. Are you being aggressive enough in offering products or services that complement your prospect’s purchases?
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.
Strategy #7: Revamp your corporate website.
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 sites.

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 sales.
It’s a fact: 7½ out of 10 online prospects will abandon their shopping cart before completing a purchase.

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, test again.
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.
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 250–500 words.
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.
What worked last year is not going to work now, because the business climate and market psychology are completely different.

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 money somewhere.

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 market share.

---Source: Craig Huey is the president of Creative Direct Marketing Group (CDMG), a direct response agency. Reach him at or 310-212-5727.

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