They edited my article down a bit and ran it in their January Costco Connections Magazine. Thought you might enjoy it without the edits…
Buck the Recession
Recession. What recession?! Or so goes the attitude of some business owners in this tough economy. Take heart – they’re among a substantial number of businesses that are not getting beaten up these days. In fact, they’re thriving.
Here’s what you can do to become a recession buster, too.
Get searched. It’s no coincidence that small businesses are creating websites in ever greater numbers. With a little effort, it becomes very easy to get search engines like Google to send you traffic. It’s all a matter of deliberately designing your website and content so that the search engines are attracted to your site and give it priority over other sites with similar content. Tweak a phrase here, add text there and before you know it, you’ll be getting online traffic without spending a dime. It’s up to you to then convert those visitors into paying customers.
Add meaning. Customers have a harder time “pulling the trigger” on purchases in a down economy. To give them even more impetus to spend their money with you, add meaning to your business by standing for something. Find a cause that you would like to associate with and share a portion of proceeds with that cause. Or better yet, promote to your customers how you and your whole company volunteer for a cause with your time or conduct your business sustainably. The respect you gain will broaden the purchasing decision tree from strictly monetary to ideological and emotional considerations as well.
Create systems. There are very few things about a business that can’t be standardized. The more predictable, repeatable and reliable your business activities are, the more efficient you become. By studying, streamlining and then documenting a systemized approach to things like customer service, financial management, team communication, marketing, etc., you’ll find that you’ll be able to free your mind of the procedural aspects of your business and focus more time on creative and innovative ways to be valuable to your customers.
Spark word of mouth. Stop spending on advertising as a first priority. Start figuring out ways to give people something to talk about. Add to that tools that make it easy for word-of-mouth to spread. For example, instead of just sending an e-newsletter featuring products (ho-hum), take it to a new level of buzz worthiness by including a juicy personal commentary, heartstring-pulling story or perhaps an outrageously funny photograph that makes people want to pass the e-newsletter along to someone else. Before you know it, your advertising budget will be zero and your inbound traffic will balloon.
Read about the Top Ten Recession Busters from the recently published 2008 StartupNation Home-Based 100.
You can also read this feature story about their strategies.