It looks like things are going to get worse before they get better with the economy. The National Retail Federation forecasts that retail sales will expand only 2.2% between November and December, half the 4.4% average of the last ten years. With continued layoffs and decreased consumer and business spending, we all need to be smart about our marketing and spending.
Constant Contact surveyed over 2,000 small business owners and found that while 86 percent are concerned that the economy will hurt their holiday sales, they are still stepping up their marketing efforts to keep loyal customers and attract new ones. 76 percent are planning holiday promotions and last minute offers (up from 62 percent last year) and more than half will begin marketing earlier this year.
Small companies with limited budgets and resources are often the ones best equipped to survive and thrive in uncertain conditions, because they’re already lean and responsive to customers. Constant Contact suggests “three important lessons that small businesses can teach the larger marketplace as we prepare for the worst:
- Hope for the best – small business owners are, on the whole, more optimistic about their prospects even in the face of insecurity, and that optimism leads to courage when presented with growth opportunities.
- Keep marketing, but look for methods with proven ROI – new and small business need to find customers, and increase their revenue opportunities with existing customers, and therefore can’t rely on market position to carry them through. They keep marketing, but use cost effective tools like e-mail newsletters to build stronger business relationships.
- Listen to the market – Small business owners are more responsive to opportunities discovered through conversations with their customers. The product that you have at the start of a downturn might not be the one that drives your climb back out.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor, Smallbiztechnology.com