It is a natural reaction in tough economic times for businesses to look at their various activities and identify costs that can be cut back.
One area they traditionally prune is the marketing budget but this can be counter-productive for small businesses that need to protect their sales revenue, retain existing customers and keep the orders coming in.
A business rescue adviser brought in to help a company in difficulty will closely examine spending and in the process help develop a new business plan which will include innovative marketing aimed at generating sales at a lower cost.
In situations where a number of businesses are failing a small business also has to think carefully about remaining visible or risk potential and actual clients assuming that it has ceased trading and look around for an alternative supplier that has remained visible.
There is some evidence that small businesses are becoming highly innovative about their marketing. Instead of employing an in-house marketing team, for example, they are outsourcing their marketing and buying services only as and when they need them.
Joining a business networking club is one example of a cost effective trend that has been growing for some time. But it is not a short term fix and many businesses leave it too late, joining only when they realise they are in trouble.
Networking needs commitment and it takes time to get to know the other businesses represented and understand exactly what they do. It works on the truism that ‘people buy from people’ and there needs to be trust as well as synergy. This is unlikely to happen in less than six months of becoming a member of a club.
Too often people frantically try to sell their services rather than listening and learning about the other businesses in the club. It is vital to follow up with every member once you have joined and learn more about each other even if you can’t immediately see any synergy.