We’re reading a lot these days about the poor state of the economy and the likelihood of a recession. I think most of us believe that if we’re not already in recession, we’re darn close! So, what steps can you take to try to recession-proof your B-to-B direct marketing operation?
First, let me say that business cycles, particularly down cycles, are not all bad. During the good times, our businesses can get a little “bloated.” In the bad times, we need to cleanse.
Here are some tips to help your company survive these difficult times.
1. Gather your management team together. Brainstorm on how to cut costs by 5 percent or increase productivity by 5 percent — or both. Encourage your managers to solicit feedback from employees down on the front lines — usually the people who do the work know where the waste is. Make it positive, though, or you might spook your employees into fearing for their jobs.
2. Examine your product offering. Ask yourself which items you sell are “must haves” vs. “wants.” Watch closely the sales trends on the discretionary items. Promote the items your customers must have.
3. Review your shipping and handling policies. Look for opportunities to raise pricing to cover higher shipping and fuel surcharges.
4. Meet with each of your vendors. Ask for their suggestions on new products that will sell in a recessionary environment and ways to cut 3 percent from your purchases. Faced with reality, they’d rather help you do it in a collaborative process.
5. Be ready with “instant promotions.” With instant online marketing opportunities, it’s easy to have an instant promotion on a slow day.
6. Reduce your workforce (voluntarily). Ask if any of your employees want extra vacation, or a sabbatical, without pay. You’ll get some takers.
7. Strictly adhere to your budget. Keep on top of matching volume-related expenses (e.g., payroll) to the actual volume in any downturn.
8. Don’t stop prospecting. You may need to reduce pages, paper weight and other things, but keep your circulation in line with response. During a recession, many mailers cut back in desperation. This can be an opportunity for you, because with less mail in the marketplace, your mailings will get more attention.
9. Keep shifting to lower-cost online marketing alternatives, including search engine optimization, e-mail, etc. Also consider putting key acquisition-oriented products on Amazon.com or accepting PayPal for payments.
10. Keep close to your customers. Know their “points of pain” as any recession unfolds. You might find opportunity.
Good luck weathering any storm should it come!
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.