The One Budget Item You Can’t Afford to Cut

For those of us whose parents survived the Great Depression, the recent economic downturn may have stirred deep-rooted reflexes to scrimp and save: cut expenses to the barest minimum, DIY wherever possible.

The problem is – applying this mindset to a marketing budget can set off a long downward spiral of dwindling prospects, dwindling conversions, and ultimately dwindling profits. The “Depression mentality” simply doesn’t translate to a successful business.

Why? It doesn’t take an Arthur Miller to point out that in-person and online relationship marketing has overtaken the old Willie Loman-style product-based marketing that was measured by doorbells rung and shoeleather worn through.

It doesn’t take a Zig Ziglar to point out the value of networking through your local Chamber of Commerce, through professional groups, through service organizations. Getting your physical presence and your name in front of your target audience, investing in your community…and seeing them invest, in return, in your services.
And that’s just the beginning. When you move these same principles online, your influence can be magnified exponentially.

Your website is just the beginning of your online presence. It’s a platform from which you can demonstrate not just your products, not just your services, but something more important than either: your expertise. By providing interactive features and information products such as articles, special reports, e-books, e-courses and teleseminars on your website, you can…

• Position yourself as an expert by answering the questions they want to ask. Not just the simple questions about product specs or service logistics, but deeper questions about bigger issues: What is the difference in energy savings between a triple-pane and a double-pane window? How does acupuncture speed healing? Can I control basement flooding with landscape design?
• Educate your prospects by providing the information they need to make good purchasing decisions.
• Provide compelling reasons, within that information, for them to buy from you.

Bottom line: when businesses are scrambling for clients and sales, the deciding factor is usually not going be the specifics of what you do or sell. After all, how many other businesses offer variations on your product or service?

In the end, the deciding factor is how your prospective clients perceive your business. Is your business voice friendly? Does it tell them what they need to know and want to hear, in their terms? Does it focus on their needs and desires, rather than on what you want to tell them?

Your presence online and offline is your first step to creating a relationship with your prospective clients …and this is the make-or-break factor in marketing your business. In an unstable economy, the strength of your marketing is the strength of your business.

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