E-mail Marketing In Tough Times

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. For some in the Real Estate business, trying a new approach in tough times involves using social media such as Facebook or writing a blog.  However all put extra emphasis on staying in touch through e-mail marketing.

Off line methods of marketing and promoting tend to involve significant cash budgets so Email Marketing is certainly A Wise Choice for Tough Times.

Email marketing offers many advantages over other types of advertising.

  • You can target your audience at a lower cost than, for example, print ads. Email is also a less expensive option than mass mailing.
  • It is easier to track your email marketing ROI (return on investment) than with other forms of advertising.
  • You can bring your message to the customer, instead of having to wait for them to pick up a magazine or visit a website in order to see your ad.

High Email Marketing ROI

In a study done by the Direct Marketing Association in 2007, advertisers achieved an ROI of $48.34 for every dollar spent and that has declined slightly in 2008 to $45.06.  It is still a much better investment than some other forms of advertising including catalogs which had an ROI of just over $7.00 in 2007.

Because email marketing has this high ROI with a relatively low cost, it is a good choice even for businesses that are cutting back on their marketing budget. That is even confirmed in Hong Kong where SMEs turn to email marketing in tough times.

Businesses with a small contact list of less than a thousand recipients can easily launch a DIY campaign with affordable, marketer-friendly "hosted" systems like Campaign Monitor or Constant Contact, which costs as little as US$0.01 per recipient and not worry about software license, hardware or deliverability.

Large corporations with hundreds of thousands of recipients and requiring data privacy or sophisticated integration would opt for "enterprise-level" proprietary solutions to carry out large scale, frequent campaigns.

In fact for any size of company it is important to have a good opt-in database of likely prospects.  By choosing the right e-mail database company, they can provide the most effective resources for all direct mail and telemarketing needs.  Lists can be tightly focused and can cover either say US businesses, or US consumers in a given regional area.

If tough times encourage companies to be using more effective methods such as e-mail marketing, then the resulting benefits will continue once the good times return.  It is one upside on having to endure and survive such difficult times.

Business Performance Management During Crises And Recessions

A global recession such as we are all suffering is not easy for anyone.  Some companies will not survive since sloppy business practices only work in good times.  The half-full glass can thus be seen as a time of opportunity for the survivors who apply high performance practices.  On the other side of the recession, the survivors will be in good shape and will have less competition.

That message is to be found in a Business Interview in The Hindu: Hard-edged diagnostic of business is critical in a downturn. The Four Laws in the book, ‘Breakthrough Imperative – How the Best Managers achieve outstanding results’, are fundamental.

  • Costs and prices always decline.
  • Competitive position determines options.
  • Customers and profit pools don’t stand still.
  • Simplicity gets results.

Mr Mark A. Gottfredson, a co-author of the book, and a Partner in Bain & Company, Inc., US, affirms that the Four Laws are timeless concepts that work in economic boom times and in times of downturns. A performance improvement diagnostic using the four laws will identify the key imperatives for surviving the downturn and for gaining advantage as the market turns back up.

The Four Laws in a way reflect a view on what is happening around and outside the company.  The Balanced Scorecard approach (bsc) suggests that the organization should consider its strategy with respect to four key dimensions, rather than only the Financial dimension.  These dimensions are:

  • Financial
  • Customer
  • Learning and growth and
  • Internal processes

A do­wn­t­ur­n­ bsc  forces a­ mo­re h­o­listic view­ o­f­ p­erf­o­rma­n­ce as o­rga­n­iz­a­tio­n­s develo­p­ a­n­d review­ their stra­tegic o­bj­ectives, rather than just adopting a shedding-assets and cutting costs approach.  Taking the right corrective actions in line with your recession scorecard  means that the organization will be in the best possible shape once the recession passes. 

Weaker competitors who do not adopt this downturn scorecard approach will either not survive or will have fallen back in their competitivity.  The Chinese curse says, ‘May you live in interesting times’.  Provided you take the right steps that curse can signal an opportunity.

How Businesses Can Survive The Recession

Nuclear Winter and Surviving This Recession sounds exactly like the advice that most companies need given the gloomy situation all around.  This is a time for making sure that you are running the best business possible. 

As the recession starts to pummel Silicon Valley and as layoffs pile up, organizations are saying, ‘what is the absolute nuclear winter? Let’s plan for that.’ What you’re seeing now are organizations putting those plans into reality.

That may involve rethinking your business model.  That is exactly what Kevin Kelly, CEO of executive search giant Heidrick & Struggles has done as explained in a Business Week article:

Over the next five years, Heidrick & Struggles will change its strategy dramatically. While executive search is currently more than 95% of Heidrick’s business, search will shrink to 50%. Leadership advisory services will expand to roughly 40%, and developing new technology tools for consultants and clients will become the remaining 10%.

A number of people are coming out with checklists and interestingly that business model revision is at number one in a Small Business checklist from Los Angeles.  Here are the Top 10 survival tips they recommend.

  1. Revising the Business Model
  2. Reducing Employees or Work Hours
  3. Cash Flow Issues
  4. Efficiency and Reducing Bills
  5. Taking the Offense by Marketing
  6. Customer Service and Incentive Discounts
  7. Partnerships and Alliances
  8. Seeking Professional Advice
  9. Watching Key Indicators
  10. Staying Healthy and Positive

There are some similarities with another list that the BBC put out only a month or two back on How small firms can survive recession.

  1. Don’t panic.  Get the facts
  2. Work out where you can make savings.
  3. Are you spending on things that don’t make a real difference
  4. You can save money with energy efficiency measures and reusing and recycling.
  5. Maximise your productivity.
  6. Know who your competitors are and what they’re up to.
  7. Cutting prices isn’t the only way to increase demand. Can you make your product more attractive without a lot of extra cost?
  8. Don’t forget that not everyone will spend less and those who do may cut back on other products and buy yours instead.
  9. If you’re lucky enough to be able to invest, get ahead of the game for the upturn.
  10. You do have to make sure you get paid on time or your cash flow will suffer
  11. Is there as much money in the bank as there should be?
  12. Stop using expensive advisers and use the free services available

It is interesting that companies are encouraged to see how they can beef up their services to clients so as not to lose revenues.  If the competition in fact is not doing this then this creates an opportunity for a real competitive advantage

Part of this thinking involves customer service and according to a survey from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) the Recession is ‘boosting customer service levels’.

With consumers seeking value-for-money products and services, companies are making greater efforts to impress their customers, keep them happy and prevent them slipping into the clutches of competitors. With satisfied customers much more likely to return and remain loyal, good customer service is vital to survive the recession

It is essential to stay on top of all these issues.  There is a good deal of work involved in these checklists. However stay optimistic and perhaps  this may be the time when you can steal a march on your competition..