With the economic prognosis dim for 2009, U.S. manufacturers and businessmen need to rethink basic marketing strategies. Gone are the comfortable days of order backlog that manufacturers have enjoyed since the post-WWII. Everyone is scrambling to find new customers and new markets for their products. As Doug Gregory of Diamond Group Marketing pointed out in a February 9, 2009 article on Manufacturing & Technology eJournal, “you can’t cut and save your way to survival and profitability.”

To survive the next few lean years, you’re going to have to take excellent care of your current customers and work hard to find new ones. Gregory recommends a number of marketing strategies proven during previous downturns to help companies survive and even thrive. We’ve added some comments based on the benefit of our own experience here at DJ Products in building a successful material handling company with a national reputation for innovation, quality products and superior customer service.

  • Aggressive marketing. Many companies cut back on marketing efforts during a downturn. Survivors will buck the tide and increase marketing across the board. During tough economic times, potential customers do more shopping around looking for the best bargains. Getting your company name out there where they’re looking gives you a better chance to snag the sale.
  • Customer service. Without your customers you won’t have a business. Keeping customers happy must always be a top priority. During economic downturns competition heats up and you have to work even harder to keep your customers from jumping ship and going with the competition. Keep in regular contact with your customers so you’re right there to meet their needs as they arise. In a downturn, companies typically decrease inventories to cut expenses. You’ll benefit if you can provide customers with fast order turnaround and guaranteed delivery dates.
  • Strategic diversification. A tight economy forces you to expand and diversify your customer list, but make sure you don’t lose your core focus. You don’t want to dilute the expertise that sets you apart from your competitors and draws customers to you in the first place. Look for new customers with needs similar to those you now serve. Take a look at your current customers’ competition. With the same needs as your present customers, they present a ready market for your products.

Next time: Where to look for new marketing opportunities.