No-Money-Down Marketing Plan: Improve Your Marketshare without
Spending a Penny
By John Haskell
The economy is nothing short of "lousy." Business is really
tough. Customers are canceling events. A local party and event
rental company asked its team what they could do to create an
adequate amount of revenue to survive the recession.
The group had the benefit of being together for a number of
years. They wrote up a marketing and sales plan every year for the
last three years. They also recognized planning is the launching pad
for success. Without a plan, they would not have any chance to
survive. Together, they came up with a strategy to attack new
markets and meet new people. The CEO increased his involvement with
the sales team and with customers. The results were immediate. After
making a three-hour trip to a military base, the CEO closed a big
deal because the sergeant in charge of the event was so impressed
the owner came to see him.
As your organization braces itself for tough times, how can
it can it boost revenue without breaking the budget? Here are some
steps to building your own no-money-down marketing plan.
1. Write a revised marketing plan and execute it:
have a plan in the first place, go back and review every element to
see how it fits into the current environment. If you don't have a
plan in place, move fast to create one.
2. Uncover your opportunities:
Do you have certain
products that stand out? Do you have particular financial strength
so you can help your customers through hard times? Do you have other
services can you offer? What other competitive strengths do you
The starting point for all business planning is
"opportunities." What opportunities still exist in the market for
your company? Check out your key competitors who are weak and whose
customers may be feeling uncertainty or doubt. The word gets out
during bad times. You don't want to badmouth anyone, but you can
certainly point to the solidity of your company, your long history,
your repeat customers, etc. Sowing the seeds of doubt about
competition's ability to deliver, to service, to respond is part of
the competitive world.
3. Develop new terms and conditions for doing business:
the time to look at ways to exploit your opportunities with new
thinking. For example, your customer may not have the money for
inventory, but you know they can sell much more if they have goods
in their stores.
What can you do? One answer that may work to your advantage
is "consignment." By putting goods in your customer's stores without
asking for payment, you make it possible for them to sell more of
your product. You may be able to force the customer to drop
competitive merchandise in return for this major support. Work out
terms and conditions to protect your investment and make it
profitable for you.
4. Don't accept "no," "We never did it before" and the big one, "Our
systems won't allow it."
If you let the finance people or the "naysayers" stand in your way,
you will not succeed. Just because you have never done it before
doesn't mean it won't work. Systems are there to serve the company –
not prevent progress. There is always someone who can figure out how
to make a program work within the confines of IT or other systems.
As a leader, you cannot allow "no" or other objections to stand in
the way of a program that has great upside potential. These are
times when leaders must be bold.
5. Promote your company's major skills:
Your company does certain things very well. Is your technology
particularly good? Are you great promoters? Do your people relate to
customers especially well? Look at your company very honestly and
figure out the one or two things you do best. Then promote these to
your customers and to your own people constantly. You may not be
perfect, but if you are better than competition, promote it! If you
have skills that make a difference for customers – promote it! If
you are universally loved by customers – promote it!!
6. Go back to lost customers:
When business was
good, losing a customer may not have seemed important. Now that the
market is significantly smaller, the customers who have survived are
much more important. All it may take is a simple "we are sorry" …
sometimes it may take much more. You must do whatever it takes to
see those past customers who are not buying, and find ways to win
Price will be important, but it is not the only thing. There
are other valuable tools you can bring to the table. Start by asking
every salesperson to name the one potentially significant customer
who used to buy, but now isn’t. Then work with the salesperson to
figure out a tactical plan to get business back from that customer.
If you do get some business from them, be sure your company handles
it perfectly. Then go back and get more!
This No Money
Down Marketing Plan is the starting point for survival in these
difficult times. Get going now so you can put these tactics to work
to help your company increase its marketshare now.
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