Recession Session

Marketing Sense

Sales, advertising and marketing are early targets for entrepreneurs navigating recession. And it's not a bad time to trim efforts to sell to marginal accounts. Take a fresh look at existing customers and new markets to winnow out the least profitable and reliable. "You shouldn't have all your eggs in one basket, but you can have more eggs in the baskets you have the most confidence in," says Hoffman.

Also, focus on finding quick sales rather than long-term marketing. "You want orders," says Kinnear. "[Don't] waste time at trade shows where people aren't buying anything at the moment."

Another approach is to ramp up sales efforts. As customers for Lok's marketing newsletters become coy, he feels he has to pursue them more energetically. "If I'd traditionally mail 25,000 direct-mail pieces, I'll send out 30,000 this year hoping to get the same total response," he says.

Now that competitors may be marketing less, you also have a chance to grab market share. Says Norm Stoehr, founder and CEO of Inner Circle International Ltd., a Minneapolis-based organizer of entrepreneur peer groups, "Everyone else is in a fetal position, waiting for the recession to play itself out. Now is the time for the bold ones to step forward."

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  • The American Marketing Association has dozens of authoritative articles about proven methods for marketing during tough times available online. Register to get free access to articles and select the topic you're interested in under the Best Practices tab. You can also sign up to receive free email newsletters and news alerts.
  • Jay Conrad Levinson wrote Guerrilla Marketing in the aftermath of back-to-back recessions in the early 1980s. And there's still no cheaper, livelier or better manual for low-cost marketing than the $13 paperback third edition of this classic: Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets For Making Big Profits From Your Small Business

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This article was originally published in the March 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Recession Session.

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