If there’s one thing business owners universally fear, it’s an economic downturn. Although there are a few industries that benefit, or at least remain stable during a rough patch, even those tend to face increased pressure and competition in slower times.
But, an economic downturn doesn’t have to mean big trouble for your company. The easiest way to attract new customers when times are tight – not to mention keep the ones you already have – is to look at the way you attract customers in the first place.
In my view, the best way to grow your business during a downturn (any time actually) is to make the switch to attraction-based marketing strategies. This may seem self-serving, since I advocate strongly in favour of inbound as a cure for a lot of business and marketing ailments, but that doesn’t change the fact that it can make all the difference when we’re working with limited budgets.
Here are just a few of the reasons I believe inbound can help your business stay afloat, and even thrive, during a downturn…
1. Attraction (vs interruptive) Marketing Is Incredibly Cost-Effective
In our initial meetings with potential clients, we often like to show them how we’ve been able to transform other companies' fortunes with the power of inbound / content marketing. In some cases, new leads have increased by more than 500% in the first year after we’ve put the right systems in place. That’s exciting enough, but the fact that we are able to accomplish that without huge marketing or advertising budgets really gets attention.
That’s not hype, it’s just really good leverage. A lot of traditional marketing works on repeated (expensive) exposures, like emails and pay-per-click ads, that incur costs over and over again. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, works on attention, creativity, and goodwill. These may take a bit longer to build, but it’s cost effective and best of all increases in value over time.
2. A Focus on Inbound Marketing Keeps You From Making Things Worse
When businesses are following a traditional outbound marketing approach, an economic downturn that lasts longer than a few months usually leads to cutbacks. In an effort to save money, business owners resort to downsizing, ad expenditure cost cutting, wage decreases, and longer credit terms. Or worse, they cut back on the value offered to customers. Those are the kinds of things that may save money in the short term, but they can also put you out of business.
With an inbound plan in place, ongoing business development activities, like networking (social or not), and participation in socially aware events and causes can continue without a big cash outlay. As a consequence, businesses don’t have to make sacrifices, while gaining both karma and eyes.
3. Inbound Marketing Works in Any Economy
Perhaps the best benefit of moving to an inbound marketing strategy is that, unlike some other types of advertising you've likely engaged in before, it tends to work in any economic environment. You won’t have to switch gears or make sudden changes just because the economic ground is shifting beneath your feet; you’ll already be doing the things you need to in order to maintain a strong, sustainable marketing and business base.
If you’re looking for a way to increase your market share while your competition is withering, look at the opportunities around content and inbound strategies.