Boosting sales in a down economy

| Print |  Email
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

CashDrawer

FOR SMALL BUSINESSES without large cash reserves, economic downturns can be especially tough. To stay afloat, you need to keep the cash register ringing even when customers are cutting back — and that means thinking outside the box.

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is cutting down on marketing when they start to get strapped, says Harry DeWolf, district director for the Small Business Administration in Portland.

“You’ve just got to get more creative,” he says. “Visit potential clients instead of
sending them stuff. Call them or email them. Work those lists, and make the message more personal.”

Another strategy is to form alliances with other businesses to stretch marketing dollars, says Shelah Johnson, CEO of Techchex, a Portland-based tech  firm that serves small and mid-sized businesses. Identify noncompetitive businesses that share your target
consumer and create co-op ads to benefit both players. Refer business to other firms and request they return the favor.

You can turn customers into marketing allies, too. Viral marketing, such as email blasts that can be forwarded to others, are an easy way to expand your base without any extra effort or expense, Johnson says.

One tactic to avoid, though, is discounting. “It decreases the perceived value of your product or service,” Johnson says. Instead, offer value-added incentives, such as one month of free service when a customer pays for a full year.

To compete with big-box competitors that do slash prices, step up the service. Look at what the competition doesn’t have or do and fill in the gaps, DeWolf says.

Spending money might seem counterintuitive at a time like this, but one investment that could really pay off is a website. “If you don’t have one, it’s like being invisible to the world,” Johnson says.

Above all, both experts agree that the key to driving sales in a down economy is to be proactive and stay positive.

“In many ways, small business is more agile than enterprise business,” Johnson says. “We know how to be resourceful. Small businesses have cockroach in our DNA: We will survive anything.”

JAMIE HARTFORD


To comment, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

More Articles

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...

Much ado about data-driven organizations, for good reason

Contributed Blogs
Monday, April 13, 2015
bigdatathumbBY GRANT KIRBY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The mega-shift from technology-driven to data-driven organizations raises questions about Oregon’s workforce preparedness.


Read more...

5 highlights from the Angel Oregon Showcase

The Latest
Thursday, April 23, 2015
IMG 5069BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well at the Oregon Angel showcase, an annual event for angel investors and early stage entrepreneurs.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS