Boosting sales in a down economy

| Print |  Email
Archives - July 2008
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

Light Moves

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Fittingly, Light at Play — a business whose sole purpose is to create mesmerizing ambience — was conceived at Burning Man.


Read more...

5 schools helping students crack code

The Latest
Thursday, January 29, 2015
codeduthumbnailBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As the costs of college mount, and as employer demand for software developers soars, coding schools and classes are popping up everywhere.


Read more...

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

Corner Office: Sheree Arntson

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking in with the managing director of Arnerich Massena.


Read more...

The Carbon Calculus

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Carbon pricing is gaining momentum in Oregon, sparking concern for energy-intensive businesses — but also opportunity to expand a homespun green economy.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation.


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