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June 18, 2015

Surviving Tough Times: Why Cutting Marketing Kills Your Business Fast

We’ve all been there; every business goes through tough times. I remember all too well just about a decade ago when Daniel and I were living off of credit cards, in debt up to our eyeballs while building our business.

I’m so thankful we were able to get past that hump and never gave up when things got really bad (one Christmas we had enough credit on our credit card to buy a tiny turkey, some potatoes and vegetables… I remember standing at the till praying the card wouldn’t get rejected and vowed to never be in a position like that again. But that’s a whole ‘nother story… )

So I get it; during these lean times, it’s absolutely natural and necessary for a business owner to look at how to cut costs and maximize profit margins.

And after reading this article in its entirety, you will be energized and enthused about getting your business back on track instead of wondering if you should shut it down. When done, I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment and let me know if you’ll give any of my suggestions a try.

Now, I hear you asking: how does a business survive tough times? The first thing most entrepreneurs do is cut out anywhere they are paying out money, and often that is related to marketing. Whether it’s SEO, blogging, newsletters, social media or Google ads etc, it’s the first place you too might be looking to cut back.

But the biggest mistake you can make is to cut your marketing budget.

Marketing is the lifeblood of your business that brings in new customers and sales, which helps your business thrive. Without marketing, no one will know your business exists. It’s as simple as that.

Your marketing expenses should be the last thing you cut back on when times get tough.

In fact, The American Business Press shows that companies who continue to market themselves during a down economy grow four times faster than companies that don’t. That’s why it’s smart to get the most marketing bang for your buck.

So instead of cutting back on the one expense your business needs to survive, take a step back and look at what you have been doing up to this point and find out what needs to change to turn things around.

To get your creative juices flowing on what you can literally start doing today, here are 11 marketing tactics and strategies you can use to get your business back on its feet:

1. Invest in Customer Loyalty: It’s always easier to sell to people who already know, like, and trust you. Treat your current and former customers like Gold and:

  • Introduce a “customer of the week” program;
  • Reward customers for referrals they bring you;
  • Recognize customer birthdays with a hand written note or card;
  • Call former customers as a follow-up and see how they are doing and if there’s anything you can help them with.

2. Drum up Publicity: Local papers are always looking for news stories. Publicity has the power to tell thousands of potential new customers about your business. Best of all it’s free. Here’s some ideas to try:

  • Write a press release featuring how your company made a difference with a local customer;
  • Consider holding a charity run and submitting it to the paper;
  • Find a way your company can tie into a trending event and tell the media;
  • Be a sponsor or volunteer at a local event and share your experience with reporters.

3. Reconnect with your Network: Now’s the time to leave the office, shake some hands, and connect with other local business owners and people who are in your ideal target market. You can:

  • Visit your local Chamber of Commerce or business networking groups;
  • Call up a few colleagues and reconnect for coffee to find out what’s new in their business;
  • Hop onto LinkedIn to warm up connections with those who have referred business to you in the past;
  • Send a greeting card or hand written note saying, “You are on my mind and I wanted to see what’s new.”;
  • E-mail an article to a potential lead you think would be helpful.

4. Send weekly e-mail newsletters: This makes sure that your fans and followers don’t forget about you. Plus it gives you an opportunity to share tips, ideas, and resources that provide value and showcase your expertise.

A weekly newsletter can be as simple as a short welcome note, a tip, a link to the new blog post, and a call to action. Consistency is key though; set a schedule and commit to it and you will reap the rewards of those efforts.

5. Review website traffic logs and analytics: See what pages on your website get the most traffic and ask yourself how you can best capitalize on the top traffic-generating ones.

For instance, create an offer relating to the topics on those pages, send out an e-mail promotion with a compelling call to action that will convert interested readers into leads and sales.

6. Blog regularly: Blogging is a great way to attract organic search engine traffic back to your website. It’s also a perfect way to showcase your expertise by writing what you know about and then sending your posts to your social media channels.

  • See what blog topics get the most traction and write more articles around those most popular topics;
  • Write about common questions your customers ask you and the advice you share with them;
  • If you are short on time, you can always do a “best of” post highlighting your five most popular posts on a given topic.

7. Revisit past successful promotions: Review what your all-time best promotions have been in the past and re-use the marketing tactics that gave the best conversions. If you find one that worked well, you can always build upon it with something like, “Due to popular demand we are bringing back our special promotion but only for the next 48 hours.”

8. Cross promote. DOUBLE your exposure instantly by finding a colleague with a related, but non-competitive product. Agree to send offers, articles, and words of praise to each other’s lists.

Consider recommending each other’s services on social media, blog posts, and in your newsletter. It costs nothing and can create a quick boost in your income.

9. Go Social. Social media has the capability to blast your visibility fast. There’s a lot of opportunity in social marketing but you need to be creative, consistent and engaging. Here’s some ideas:

  • Post on trending topics;
  • Create a Facebook contest;
  • Use infographics and videos (Videos are extremely popular on Facebook right now, getting tons of engagement when the video is uploaded directly to your account.);
  • Post teasers to lead people to read your blog articles;
  • Be helpful and participate in groups where you will find your target market;
  • Collect e-mails by offering opt-in free reports, audios, videos or other kind of freebie.

10. Consider Outsourcing. If you are doing your own marketing, you may not be getting the best results because you simply don’t know what you don’t know.

That’s why now may be the perfect time to delegate your marketing to an expert. There are specialized businesses that can write your newsletters, post social media, increase website conversions, find cross-promotion partners, write/submit press releases, do Facebook and Google AdWord campaigns and more.

Yes, you’ll have to pay them to do this but your return on investment will be greater than your own efforts if you’re not well versed in this area.

11. Find a Part Time Job: Especially if you’re just starting out, it’s not considered a failure to seek additional income to help supplement your living expenses while you build your business. Ideally, find a job that utilizes your knowledge and expertise and has flexible hours so you can still have time to work on your business.

When times get tough, your marketing has to get tougher.

Remember, being a business owner means investing in your business and it takes time to build it to a profitable point. Just as Daniel and I weathered the storm of being dead broke and several thousands of dollars in debt, you too can get past this slump as long as you stay calm, plan smart, and employ these tactics to rise above the challenges you’re facing.

These business-building strategies I just shared are cost-efficient, proven and effective ways to generate sales for your business. Instead of giving up, give them a try — what do you have to lose?


As the founder, Susan Friesen brings a unique advantage to eVision Media clients by having earned a Bachelor in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems through the Thompson River's University. Her experience in the Web development industry since 1999 has gained her much insight and knowledge in how to effectively brand a business and then translate that to a user-friendly, search-engine friendly, custom designed website. She is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School multi-media program and also earned several certificates in technology through the University of Victoria and Athabasca University. She won the 2003-2004 Governor General's Bronze Academic Award for achieving the highest academic standing in a diploma-level post secondary program.