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Can Small Business Thrive In During Economic Downturns?


The short answer is, of course.

In fact, large corporations often plan for such swings and use them to drive unprepared and distracted competitors out of business while massively expanding their own market share. Look around, you’ll see it all over the financial news nearly every day. Companies gobbling up the weaker, stealing market share, expanding their business.

So that’s not how you run your small business, we get it. You’re not a shark who measures their worth over who they can stomp on today.

That’s a good thing.

But there are some important lessons to learn from the extremes of the corporate world and from your fellow small businesses who not only haven’t panicked, they’ve put their heads down and pushed forward, making significant gains while others get distracted and falter.

First, there are several truths that you will need to embrace. They are critical to not only your business success, but its very survival.  They are as follows:

#1 Recognize that there are businesses and entities out there that profit from bad news. Beyond political and media ( to quote Don Henley,” She can tell you ‘bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye” ) who gain from stirring you into a frenzy by exaggerating or creating bad news, there are also entire segments of the markets who also attempt to use information to artificially deflate values of markets in the same ways as inflating them with hype. Essentially making bets on failures and hoping to tilt those odds in their favors.

Add to that microcosm markets on local levels that are often manipulated with disinformation.  An example? The owner or manager that purposefully tells a supplier that business is so slow that they’ll need better terms when their volumes haven’t actually changed. Or pretending they are on the ropes to discourage competitors from viewing them as a threat to pay attention to while they are working on a large deal (or even to try and discourage competition by making the market seem as if it were collapsing. If they really believed that, they would have shut down already.) Even handling employees can fall into the same pattern, feigning financial doom when perhaps the company is as busy or even busier than ever.

Of course, there are those companies that are truly in distress from being overly leveraged, have stopped selling or have tapped a market for products of service that wasn’t developed enough to support their business or has run its course without changes made by the company. But those are items that are present and true regardless of the economic climate.

Why is that important to know? It’s essential to understand that such informational sway is often just that, meant to profit others. If you can embrace that, knowing that there are some ( a whole lot of some, actually ) are using gloom and doom to run away with profits, then it becomes easier to focus on what you need to do to overcome and counter the message in a way that keeps your clientele engaged and buying.

Or perhaps it’s time to steal new clients from your distracted, psyched out competitors who have lost their focus caught up in the schemes and agendas of others designed to paralyze.

That brings us to:

#2 Selling. Ahhh..the bane of so many small business owners. They cringe at the thought of being called a salesman, conjuring thoughts of door to door encyclopedia and leisure suit wearing used car salesmen. But in times where #1 is in full force, that your clients and potential clients are being bombarded with fear and loathing, YOU MUST COUNTER! People still have wants, needs and cash. (They may not have the Monopoly money of the housing bubble, but you didn’t build your business to serve a collapsing fad, right?) Those people need to be convinced that their current needs and wants have nothing to do with what’s going on in the news. They are unique and insulated from what’s happening elsewhere and you have the best value for them, ready to serve their needs today.

That, my friends, is selling.

If you recognize that is a requirement, then you can make a plan to get there. If you think a shell-shocked public will just wander in and spend their money with no selling involvement from you, you should probably close your doors now and minimize your losses.

Not all sales are high pressure, fast talking and in your face. Informational selling works very well for many business owners and often, most who do this naturally, do not think that they are selling. But if you are talking about what you have to offer and why a customer should be comfortable choosing you, you are selling, so let’s get over that.

If you are unwilling to talk about why people should choose your business, expect that most will assume that there is no reason to choose your business and will keep shopping your competitors until they are convinced.

#3 Creating support for selling. We already established that selling is mandatory (and those that refuse, well, you should steal their customers! TODAY!).  Part of making any worthy sales plan will be to create the dialogue you want reinforced and support items to add legitimacy. You wouldn’t trust a vendor in a back alley with no signage or anything indicating permanency to be around tomorrow if you have a problem, right? How about the guy selling out of the back of an unmarked van?

Those examples may be legitimate businesses, but they lack any kind of sales support that would suggest that they were a remarkable mobile service or a trusted import mechanic. But those support materials can mean the complete shift of attitude and willingness to trust. Let’s say instead they discovered you through an online ad in a reputable place with a load of positive reviews, they visited your website, and learned more about your company then upon arrival were greeted by bright, easy to read signage. You handed them a well made business card, your estimates and invoices were computer printed with your logo on top and your in person dialogue was well prepared, friendly and knowledgeable.

Same businesses. Two very different outcomes.

That’s what sales support materials do for you. They add legitimacy and comfort for the new client. The kind of comfort, that if they feel they received a fair, trusted value, leads to them recommending family and friends with similar needs. Turning clients into unpaid salespeople. Can you afford not to?

#4 Reaching new clients. You’ve got your in person or phone pitch prepared, your physical sales support materials in place, an online presence established and production at the ready, now it’s time to reach out and become as visible to as many of your potential market as you can. Increasing your odds by embracing numbers and focusing your message to those that your experience says are ready to receive it.

Advertising and marketing.

This is an area that many struggling businesses will falter in. Some will mistake it as a replacement for their selling strategy or as their total sales strategy, some will not target market to their known audience, some will let others outside of their business completely craft their message and choose their audience while others will do nothing at all, paralyzed by indecision or a lack of understanding.

True enough, nothing can be a bigger black hole than spending on an ad or marketing campaign that does not target the proper audience, strays or meanders in its message, has no urgency, purpose or desired outcome beyond branding and is not backed by a solid sales conversion plan.

The freeway is littered with such examples as are radio, TV, newspapers and the web. Ads that may draw your eye for a moment, tell you nothing, ask you to do nothing and lose your interest just as fast, while you do…nothing.

It’s the hallmark of ads created by designers with no direction from sales management or worse, the complete handover of the message to the internal staff of the advertising channel with no input beyond name and address, maybe a logo and the name or image of the product or service.

Those are ads that fail. They fail because they are not tied to the businesses overall sales plan, meander and look, sound or feel foreign to everything else the business has going on and it won’t matter to the seller of the ad space, they will just stay focused on keeping their ad space full, selling to the next business.

YOU CANNOT BE DISCONNECTED FROM THIS PROCESS! You cannot simply turn over marketing to people who are not involved in your business and expect results. While they can bring valuable suggestions and insights along with the skill to produce a final product, the overall package must be a result of your vision and oversight. It must blend with all other aspects of your sales strategy and sales support materials and have a purpose for every single piece produced, focused on your end goals.

Do not let this become a black hole for your business simply because you feel you don’t understand the technical aspects of the creation or delivery. Ask why something is being done, be sure it meshes with your overall effort and end goals and always, ALWAYS be sure that you’re in charge of anything that represents your business out in the world.  Do not stray from your goals based on technical intimidation.


We hope you enjoyed the above information and hope that you may have gained valuable insights into some of the processes that small businesses are using to conquer their markets and expand their businesses, even in times of poor economic mood.

Best of luck with your endeavors and sales plans.

At DDA Media, we provide the sales support services , marketing materials and campaigns for small business. If it carries your logo or message, we make it, online or off. We create to fit the personalities and established styles of businesses to extend their reach.  If we can be of assistance to your business sales goals, please contact us today.

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