By Kim Parrish
With the U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at its highest level in over 25 years, it's obvious the recession is lingering. Companies and professionals are looking everywhere for new profit streams in this tough market. Social networking on Twitter and Facebook has its place, but don't forget the basic tools that can really make a difference on your next sales call. In this type of economy, your basic marketing materials have to work harder than ever to entice your customers to buy.
1. Review Your Brand - The Foundation.
With today's increased competition for new business, now is a good time to take stock of the very foundation of your marketing; does your corporate logo and basic brand image still reflect the core message of your company and goals? Are you trying to compete in this difficult market with a tired, 20 year old product brand that is no longer resonating with your customers? Savvy business leaders don't sit by while their competitors leapfrog them with a fresh brand approach. Now may be a great time to outsource a brand review from an independent, experienced design firm that is willing and able to tell you the truth.
2. Beef Up Your Advertising - The Promise.
Someone once said, "A terrible thing happens without advertising... nothing!" This classic warning rings especially true when budgets start to shrink and accounting tells you to pull back; unfortunately cutting advertising is often the worse thing that can happen. When income tightens, consumers often become restless and seek out new brands bearing new promises to help their bottom line. This activity tests existing brand loyalty, and presents an opportunity to gain new market share by projecting new messages and timely promises about your product or service. New media or traditional media, it all requires great ideas; and smart marketers are using our creative approaches to reach out and tell their story in this difficult economy.
3. Photography - The Image.
Nothing dates a corporate image like old photos or renderings. Outdated photos trickle down into the entire marketing effort; and date everything from your catalog to your website. Make sure you are aligning your brand with fresh images, using models that reflect today's diversity and putting your products in the best setting possible. Are you trying to sell your newest products with outdated images? Even simple things like an old employee uniform, archaic computer or obsolete cell phone can spoil your image and make a poor brand statement. Fresh photos and illustrations help create interest and a desire to buy, and help your message break through the clutter.
4. Print Materials - The Impact.
In a world of never-ending e-mails, tenuous tweets and spam upon spam, the well-designed brochure is still one of your best marketing sales tools for elevating your brand. When you leave behind a quality collateral piece, you make a credibility statement. Today's data mining can produce excellent specialty lists for your market; hit them with postcard campaigns that have targeted messages to reach your specific audience. Jumbo postcards can attract more attention yet cost a lot less than mailing a brochure or catalog. Since you avoid the envelope, people are more likely to read a postcard even if they throw it away. Email messages are less expensive but they are also easily dismissed as spam and never seen. And don't forget basics like business cards; make sure they have current contacts and website addresses, and are still leaving the right impression after you leave the room.
5. Website - The 24 Hour Store.
Not long ago, websites were considered cutting edge for businesses, now they are meat and potato marketing. If you haven't updated your site in the last 6–12 months, it's time to take a critical look at the content; the last thing you want in a recession is an outdated online presence. Companies often forget or neglect to update websites with new products, news stories and sales contact info, which can erode search results and impact sales. Read more here about avoiding website stagnation. If you don't have time to develop new content, outsourcing to Kim Parrish Creative Services can be a vital part of the solution—and much more economical than employing a full time webmaster.
Working together, these basic, branding perennials all add up to a better image that keeps you on top. In difficult times, you can bet your competitors are taking stock of all their marketing materials; you can't afford to do less.
Kim Parrish is an award-winning creative consultant, his Orlando advertising firm develops cohesive branding, campaigns, website solutions and SEO, print collateral, and package design for a wide spectrum of companies—from small start-up firms to global brands like Wal-Mart® and NBC/Universal®.
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