Once-thriving businesses are struggling to survive in today’s slow economy. Many are making spending decisions based on “What can I afford?” rather than “Where can I invest my money to make my business grow?”
When payroll and other expenses take priority, the advertising and marketing budget is the first to go. Lacking the resources of large corporations, small- and mid-sized businesses find it particularly challenging to keep their heads above water. In addition, they’re struggling with lower-than-average sales, difficulty getting loans, rising interest rates, and the ever-present threat of increased taxes and government regulation.
Self-storage operators know that the key to success in any economy, good or bad, is the ability to connect with customers. Operators who are firmly established in the community will be in a good position to weather economic storms and will excel when the economy recovers. To be among the leaders, you have to get your name out there.
So how do you attract attention, get new customers and maintain customer loyalty with a limited advertising and marketing budget?
Take stock of what you have to offer your customers and come up with a plan to stand out from the crowd. Customers are expecting more from their hard-earned cash and will find it easier to spend money where they’re getting the best customer service. For example, the owner of a coffeehouse has set up a system that helps her and her employees remember their regular customers' names. Customers appreciate the exceptional service and feel welcome and at home in the coffee shop.
An art gallery and frame shop attracts customers by hosting art shows featuring local artists. It gets the word out for the show through local advertising and e-mail newsletters. The kickoff for each show is a party open to the public and includes live music and hors d'oeuvres. There are many ways you can amplify your connection with your community.
Offering coupons as incentives is a tried-and-true way to get people in your door and spending money. The coupon industry is exploding because consumers are actively looking for ways to save. A survey conduced by Harris Interactive in 2009 found that a growing number of consumers will not make a purchase without a coupon. However, many small businesses simply don’t have the budget for the printing and distribution of coupons.
Instead of going the traditional route, use companies that specialize in doing the hard work for you. These “coupon” companies specialize in creating and managing coupon campaigns for other businesses, at little or no cost, and with surprisingly fast results. By providing your information and the details of your special offer, these organizations will generate a coupon campaign for you, and allow users online to search via ZIP code, product, company or service to find your deal.