“The ideal business has a market both ABLE and WILLING to spend with it, in good times and in bad times – whether for different reasons at the different times, or for needs/desires that they refuse to compromise.”
~ Dan Kennedy
Is Your Business Swooning with Pain or Pleasure Right Now?
Chaos and uncertainty benefit some businesses and threaten the existence of others. In addition, the specific type of disruption has an impact as well. Right now, much of Australia is suffering from a triple whammy: bushfires, health, and impending economic disruption caused by the ripple effect from all this.
Even in these uncertain times there are people who won’t compromise on certain purchases either because of perceived or real necessity. When you are struggling to find your next client and meet payroll and rent, it can be hard to imagine that there is a relatively large group of people for whom price is not an issue… And even harder to see ways that you can become their provider of choice.
Some of my friends and clients are coping with the overwhelm of too many enquiries and not enough capacity, others are threatened with the extinction of businesses into which they have invested their lives and resources for many years from which they had anticipated a comfortable retirement. Either way, they’re facing a challenge about what to do now to create or meet demand.
The Biggest Regret…
Last week I was talking to the owner of a virtual service technology business who ought to be frantically busy setting up clients and extending new services to existing clients who previously considered this something of an interesting luxury and now realise it’s at the heart of their operations. She’s kicking herself for inadequate and unfocused marketing during the good times which means that although their phones should be buzzing with inbound enquiries, they’re still busy with outbound marketing and often getting the response…. “I didn’t know you did that!” Or worse… “I didn’t know you did that, I’ve just signed up with another company!”
What Are You Going to Do Next?
You can’t turn back the clock even if you see things you should have done months ago. The only think you can change is what you do now… in the light of current reality. Let’s look at the three main categories of business…
- Overwhelmed with Opportunity: Be thankful. Treat your employees well and recruit additional workers based on attitude as well as skills (most skills can be learned, attitudes are chosen). In the short term, do what you can to serve the people who need you but don’t forget that next time it might be your business that suffers so keep an eye on your marketing.
- Devastated by Closure or Run-on Effect of Other Closures: Grieve by all means, but look for ways to pivot quickly and reinvent yourself. With the best will in the world our government isn’t going to be able to help much a. Governments are not very nimble; and b. Centralised power isn’t very effective; so it’s up to you. Ask for help finding opportunities and try and stay afloat as long as possible. Use the systems and resources you already have to test demand for your idea using classic direct response methodologies and positioning and look for a needy market then market effectively, aggressively, and economically.
- ’Should-be-overwhelmed-with-opportunity’ Businesses who Aren’t: Use classic direct response methodologies and positioning to reach out to a needy market which is able and willing to spend then market effectively, aggressively, and economically to those people. This is not the time to ‘build your brand’ and hope for clients, this is the time to craft a targeted message and generate a flood of inbound enquiries.
Yes, direct response marketing is my ‘thing’, but that’s because I’ve seen its impact in many economies, cultures, and markets. It’s not necessarily sexy or easy and it does take work, but it’s extremely effective and has the added appeal of being kind of fun to execute so it takes your mind off other problems.
Redefining Your Market to Reduce Vulnerability
If you look at the quotation at the head of this article I’ve defined the kind of market you need to look for… Maybe you think that your industry doesn’t lend itself to that sort of market, but most do when dig deeper. Let’s look at a few examples:
- Printing: if you work with direct-response businesses (which should be most B2B & B2C) who understand that marketing is the life-blood of their business then this is an opportunity to ramp things up. If you offer mail-merge and distribution services as well then your clients value your punctuality and expertise more than your prices.
- Graphic Design: designers who focus on communication rather than ‘prettiness’ are thriving right now. The same businesses who are printing and sending direct mail on a large scale are looking for designers who ‘get’ their needs.
- Catering, Restaurants, Food Services: these businesses have been among the first to pivot and offer food deliveries and more. One of our local butchers now offers grocery shopping and deliveries and is renting vehicles and hiring workers to keep up with the demand from seniors. They’ve been handing out coupons at seniors’ hour shopping lines at supermarkets and printing postcards for mail distribution in the area and finding it very effective. My bet is that they will have a future bank of loyal customers when circumstances change again.
- Technical Support and Virtual Services: this time around you are in luck! Consumers, educators, and businesses need you to keep operating during quarantine, but how can you make your offering clearer and ensure that your income doesn’t end with setup and installation? This is one area where you want to focus on clients whose business depends on secure, stable communications and versatile technology for the long-term because my bet is that many of these companies are going to become addicted to this kind of flexible office conditions.
- Tutoring Services: with schools closed and public gatherings banned, marketing and delivering online tutoring services is a fantastic opportunity and I suspect that many people will not return to some of the older models any time soon. There’s already an upsurge of parents looking for (and willing to pay for) help with supervising their children and working with them online. That’s only going to go up and could easily turn into a preferred solution for many families and tutors.
Power Marketing Tips for Tough Times
This is no time for ‘brand advertising’ or cold calling!
If you have a way to help your target market thrive, then reach out to them, grab their attention, and invite them to respond if they are interested in your offer. If your product or service is purely self-serving, and doesn’t meet anyone’s needs, then now is the time to close your doors.
It’s classic direct-response marketing time:
- Paint a picture of their misery;
- Show them a vision of the alternative you deliver;
- Make an offer they can’t refuse;
- Tell them what they need to do to take advantage of your offer and when they need to respond by.
- Qualify your prospects (if they don’t need/can’t afford your product or services then you aren’t helping yourself or them by spending time together);
- Create at least 2 options: your core offer and a downsell for those who don’t have the budget. A third, ultra-deluxe, option is ideal.
- Highlight the difference your solution will make to their lives/businesses/employees.
FUNDAMENTALS OF DIRECT RESPONSE – if you’re new to this concept
- Identify your market – ideally people who are suffering from the problem that you solve, can be reached, and have the money to work with you;
- Reach out to them where they are through at least 2 different channels (eg. Radio, Online, Mail, TV, Phone, etc.)
- Make your offer, tell them clearly what to do if they’re interested then wait for their (urgent) action.
A Final Thought…
If there was ever a time to remember that your audience is a parade rather than static, this is it. If your existing market is facing extinction, new businesses are being born from adversity.
Will they be able to find you?
Will they know that you exist?
If you don’t take the initiative, the answer to both those questions is a resounding, “NO!”
So, what are you going to do about it?
Need Some Help With Direct Response Marketing Implementation?
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