With the Holiday Season finally in the distance of our rear view mirror, I am no longer using that dirty word "Economy". In the recent times of easy money and going public, many small businesses forgot some of the fundamentals of pulling themselves up by the "bootstraps". Here are a few things that are helping us survive and hopefully thrive during any economic time.
1. A simple thing like printing your own business cards on "clean edge" cards can save lots of time and money, AND you can change things "on a dime" as your business changes. I mean really, how many business cards do you hand out these days? If you are going to an event, print up a bunch, otherwise just have about 20 on hand at all times. You can do the same with letterhead. Have a master letter template with your letterhead/logo saved on each desktop, and you can print whatever correspondence you need without having to put in special paper. Most correspondence is done via email/LinkedIn/Twitter/FaceBook anyway.
2. Do you really need a Webmaster who is the only one capable of updating your website? Okay, if you are Target, maybe so, but anyone who can create a word document that includes a picture can create a website these days. Use one of the drag-and-drop software programs available. I personally use Homestead.com. With both MommyLoves.com and SayBump.com we have over 200 items for sale, and I and my team have created and continue to update every one. Okay, there is one catch - TIME! Even this we can handle with one late night every six months at most. With that dirty word I mentioned above, we all have a little extra time, even though we are a little panicked at what we should be doing to increase sales.
3. Advertising vs. Marketing. The age old debate. I have tried both. They both work, but one has long term results, and one is only as good as your last ad. Oops, kinda gave it away. I have a very good friend - someone I have never met in person - who has taught me a lot about Marketing, and better yet, has done an amazing Marketing job for my company. The Marketing groundwork Laurie Wing of ParentBlast.com created for MommyLoves starting two years ago is helping us stay alive and well during these difficult times. We receive requests for samples from bloggers every week. The blogs that have decent traffic get a sample, and the write-up always increases our traffic and sales. We have received requests from television shows to provide samples for their audience during a taping. Again, increases in traffic and sales, AND more blog requests. The buzz on social networks mentions MommyLoves at least once a month, and we always receive a boost in traffic, and more importantly orders during this time. We also use Constant Contact to keep former customers coming back through our offer of a special discount, or just imparting fun ideas to harried Moms and Dads. As long as people keep talking about you, especially on this amazing world wide web, people can buy from you. Just make sure you have the best product/service going so they actually have something to talk about. I have spent more money on a few ads than I have spent on all my Marketing. The only thing is, you have to be very specific and very patient! One caution - use a small marketing firm that focuses only on you. Don't buy into a group campaign. Your chances are very slim that you will get noticed, or even get anyone to return your phone calls.
4. Use other small business resources. MommyLoves does not have any employees. MommyLoves has only vendors. We support our local businesses - both geographical and internet. We do business with small businesses from South Carolina to New Jersey to Australia, and we take advantage of the talent in our own backyard by giving work to other Moms and Dads we know.
Now, I know that most of the things I mention above will affect other small businesses like web developers and the like, but there will always be companies that cannot do what we do. Look around you, and see what you can save. Who knows, maybe I will become a web developer in my next career life with my new skill at SEO. Oh yeah, we haven't paid for SEO either. We just keep our website fresh, and were the first on the internet for our keywords, so we are always in the top 5 if not #1.
Hope those boots stay up!