Eight Marketing Strategies to Gain Momentum in a Sluggish Economy

Your sales are down, marketing budget has been (or is about to be) cut and you're looking at ways to "do more with less." Don't despair: Here are eight marketing strategies to gain momentum in a sluggish economy.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Trim fat. </b>Focus your marketing efforts on the customers who make up your top 30 to 40 percent. Don't, however, forget about the people who only order from you once or twice&#x2014;just send them promotional material less often. Your customers are already sold on your goods or services for one or more reasons: reliability, price and service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Target strategically.</b> Make sure the right message is reaching the right audience at the right time (that would be now). Who likes receiving "big and tall" clothing catalogs just because they once bought a gift for someone five years ago? Use overlays on your lists to create the best, most up-to-date and targeted list possible, and thus get the results you want.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Watch frequency.</b> Ask your prospects how often they want to receive e-mail from you. Do they want monthly, weekly or even (yeah, right) daily communications? Make sure you stay on ISP “white lists.” Getting blacklisted will cost you both on the front end and the back end—i.e., you won’t sell your goods. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Use games. </b>Use involvement devices. Whether it's a sweepstake, some type of "spin the wheel," a scratch-off or even a decoder game (print or on the web), it works. People love to take a chance, especially when it doesn’t cost them a penny. Get your audience engaged!<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Make deals.</b> Make sure your offer gets your customer to act quickly; the respond-by date is a great strategy and promotes urgency.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Cross-sell. </b>Your customer is already buying, so get them to buy more product or product from a different department.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Contact them. </b>Implement a customer controlled communications policy. Find out your client's channel preference&#x2014;e-mail, direct mail, or phone&#x2014;and preferred frequency of contact. Find out what type of items your customer would like to receive information on. Your customers will appreciate you looking out for what pleases them.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>&#x2022; Show the love! </b>Give back to your customers. Show them your appreciation by giving them a gift&#x2014;possibly a credit towards their purchase at a certain level ($X or more). Make your customer feel special. After all, your company would not be where it is today without past loyalty.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>Lisa Berman is director of new business development at CGSM (<a href="http://www.CGSM.com" target="_blank">www.CGSM.com</a>), a privately held direct-marketing agency. She can be reached at 201-529-4554 or via e-mail at <a href="mailto:lisab@cgsm.com">lisab@cgsm.com</a>.</i>