Recession Proof Marketing

By Travis Lee
Co-Founder and President, 3D Mail results

We’ve been through some tough economic times, but it feels like we’re finally getting our heads above water. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The world of business is changing big time, and it’s not exactly a walk in the park.

We’re still dealing with some leftover issues from the past few years. Yeah, the official unemployment rates seem okay, but they don’t tell the whole story. A lot of folks are stuck in part-time jobs when they really want full-time work, or they’re earning less than they used to thanks to wages not keeping up with inflation.

Building a business in this kind of environment? Tough, for sure. It’s like trying to sail in choppy waters. And for the small businesses that are just hanging on by a thread? It’s even tougher.

Over the next couple of months, I’m going to use this opening section to discuss how you can set up your business for long-term success, regardless of the economic environment. It is for the go-getters, the ones who are ready to roll up their sleeves and make things happen, no matter what. We’re talking about being smart, tough, and ready to adapt. It’s not just about being optimistic or pessimistic – it’s about getting real and doing what needs to be done.

For entrepreneurs and business leaders, this is your time to shine. It’s challenging, sure, but it’s also super exciting. You’ve got the chance to rewrite the rulebook, to build businesses that are not just about making money but also about making a difference. It’s a bumpy ride, but for those ready to take it on, the rewards could be huge.

Essential Strategy #1: Aggressive Diversity

recession proof marketingI’ve always said that the worst number in business is one. Relying too much on just one thing – like a single customer, product, or way to get your business out there – is asking for trouble. Ignoring this is like walking a tightrope without a safety net.

Remember back in the late 2000s, when Google® kicked out a bunch of advertisers? Tons of businesses who relied solely on Google® for their online traffic and sales found themselves in a world of hurt overnight. No warning, nothing. Just poof – gone. This is a classic example of how things can go south real fast when you’re not spreading your risk.

It’s like this: if you’re banking on just one way to bring in customers or make sales, any success you have right now is pretty shaky. It’s like building a house on a foundation of sand. And if things go belly up? Well, it’s kind of on you for not mixing things up.

I recently caught up with a client I’ve worked with off and on for over 10 years. They used to rely almost entirely on one marketing channel. Fast forward to now, and they’ve totally flipped the script. They’re using eight different methods (including direct mail, still the most reliable media for most businesses) to pull in customers, including direct mail, which accounts for a huge chunk of their new business. This shift was super smart, especially since their old method was losing steam.

So, what should you, the savvy entrepreneur, be doing? Three things:

ONE: Be a knowledge sponge. Read up, network, and get your hands on information about marketing strategies and channels you’re not using yet.

TWO: Make diversifying your customer acquisition methods your top priority. Don’t shove this to the bottom of your to-do list.

THREE: Avoid being a one-trick pony. If all your marketing is online, adding more online methods won’t cut it. The same goes if you’re all-in on offline marketing. You’ve got to mix it up to really protect your business.

Essential Strategy #2: Profit Margin Protection

We’ve seen a lot of businesses, especially during tougher economic times, try to keep things rolling by cutting prices. Sure, this might bring in customers, but it’s like using a Band-Aid when you need stitches. A bunch of mid-range restaurant chains went down this road, slashing prices to keep the crowds coming. But guess what? Now they’re flirting with bankruptcy.

You’re not tied to what Wall Street thinks, so you’ve got the freedom to be smarter about this. Sacrificing your profit margins to drum up business rarely works out in the long run. It’s not sustainable, and honestly, it’s not very creative. Slashing prices? Anyone can do that. But building prosperity takes imagination and effort. You’ve got to focus on keeping your profits, not throwing them away.

How do you protect your profits? It starts with knowing your business’s key numbers (check out Chapter 43 of Dan Kennedy’s book “No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits” for more on this). Then, there are loads of tactics you can use. Maybe you need to find different types of customers – ones who aren’t just looking for the cheapest option. Or maybe it’s time to switch up your products or services, bundle things differently, or improve your marketing and sales strategies. The key is making what you offer stand out from the usual, run-of-the-mill stuff.

In today’s world, if you’re just selling “stuff,” you’re on a fast track to nowhere. You’ve got to elevate your game. I wish I could give you a one-size-fits-all solution here, but it’s a complex, ongoing process. My newsletters and other communications have loads more on this. But I can tell you what you definitely shouldn’t do. I’ve seen big companies, names you’d recognize, crash and burn because they took the easy route of cutting prices to boost sales. That path is a downhill slide. You end up needing bigger and better deals to make sales, which eats away at your profits. Before you know it, you’re cornered, relying on just one or two ways to get customers – and that’s a dead end.

This is on you. You can’t blame the competition, the economy, your customers, or where you’re located. It all comes down to your creativity, determination, and smart marketing. Remember, control equals responsibility, and responsibility equals control. If you’re good at making excuses, you’re probably not great at making money.

Essential Strategy #3: Focus On Quality, Not (Just) Quantity

quality over quantityFinding ways to maximize resources and enhance profitability without necessarily expanding the workforce or inflating the budget is akin to modern-day alchemy. The digital age has brought an era where data drives decisions. However, a critical oversight many businesses make is equating high volume with success. A case in point is Netflix’s transformation. Initially, Netflix’s vast library was its biggest selling point. However, as the streaming wars intensified, Netflix shifted its focus towards quality, investing in original content that not only won awards but also significantly improved customer retention and attraction.

This pivot demonstrates the importance of valuing the quality of customers and products over mere numbers. Like Netflix, businesses should analyze the long-term value of their customers and invest in attracting those who provide greater lifetime value, not just those who are easiest to acquire.

Using the Dream 100 marketing strategy is a great way to go about finding quality over quantity. You can read about how to recession proof your business and the Dream 100 strategy here.

Essential Strategy #4: Return To Salesmanship

The digital revolution has somewhat depersonalized the art of salesmanship, with many businesses relying heavily on online marketing and passive selling techniques. Remember when everyone knew the name of the person who sold them their car, insurance, or even a TV? There’s magic in that personal touch, and guess what? It’s making a comeback.

Direct selling is evident in the success of companies like Peloton. Peloton combines cutting-edge technology with personalized sales tactics, offering live and on-demand fitness classes that create a community feel. Their approach reiterates that successful businesses need to re-embrace direct and personal salesmanship, adapting it to the modern consumer’s desire for connection and personalization.

Bringing back that old-school charm of talking to your customers, understanding what they’re all about, and giving them exactly what they need is key. Don’t hide behind your website or app. Get out there and make some real connections.

I love this video on salesmanship by Dan Kennedy.

Essential Strategy #5: Truly Earning Your Success

earn your successToday’s market is unforgiving to those who offer mediocre products or services. Success is reserved for those who provide distinct value and remarkable experiences to their customers. Tesla highlights the significance of offering unique value and exceptional experiences.

Why do people obsess over these cars? It’s not just because they’re electric. It’s because Tesla made cars cool again, with all their fancy tech and a mission that’s about saving the planet. They weren’t just selling cars; they were selling a future.

And they made sure every part of the experience, from browsing to buying to driving, felt special.

This is your wake-up call! Being average is out. You’ve got to stand out by being amazing at what you do and how you do it. It’s about giving people something they can’t get anywhere else. And trust me, they’ll notice and love you for it.

So, what’s the big picture here? It’s simple, but also huge. Focus on making what you offer the best it can be—quality over quantity, every time. Get personal and really connect with your customers. And don’t just be good; be mind-blowingly great. Offer something so cool and unique that people can’t help but talk about it.

These days, to really make it, you’ve got to stand out to your peeps by being super relevant and offering them something they can’t get anywhere else. It’s all about giving them an amazing experience from the moment they find you too well after they’ve bought what you’re selling. Do this or risk getting left behind. You’ve got to have a deep, meaningful reason for being in the game. Just wanting to make money or get rich isn’t going to cut it. Tough, but true.

Netflix, Peloton, Tesla – they all did things differently and set new rules for the game. Take a page from their book and start writing your own success story. Let’s make your business not just another name out there but the name everyone can’t stop talking about.

Let’s be honest: a lot of businesses really needed a wake-up call because the market was seriously cluttered with too much of the same old stuff. It was about time for a major clean-up, and guess what? It’s happening right now.

There’s been way too much of the “just getting by” and “good enough” attitude, with everyone selling the same things with a different label. If you’ve been just cruising along, not really trying to stand out or do something special, then maybe it’s time for a change. Take a look around. We’re overflowing with options – cars, restaurants, dentists, you name it. Everyone’s offering the same basic thing. It’s time to ditch the ordinary and aim for the extraordinary. This is how you can use marketing to recession proof your business.

What you just read was first published in my monthly newsletter, The Copywriter’s Corner, and is also published in my 3D Mail Direct Marketing System. To get more information on the newsletter and the System, visit this link.

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