Market your shop through the slow down

Author Keith Jennings
April 24, 2019 - 09:15am

With the erratic world economy we compete in, many shops have to cut expenses to ensure competitiveness. Some reductions are obvious and necessary. When business is slow, activities in advertising, marketing and sales are commonly at the top of the list of cuts. However, this is actually the time to increase spending on these activities.

When times are good and you’re busy, spending on sales and marketing is easier to absorb, and expanding these functions seems logical. But that’s also when your competition is marketing, making it more challenging for your shop to stand out. In addition, when business is robust, costs associated with marketing efforts are usually at a premium. If you’re busy and not desperate for work, it’s illogical to spend lots of money seeking business when concentrating on customer service and careful job selection makes more sense. The time to become aggressive and sell your operation like never before is when things slow down and new work is a must.

The means vary to accomplish this goal, but finding an effective technique is crucial. Some shops find success advertising in industrial directories. Others reap benefits from trade shows and trade magazine ads. Others lack funds for any of that and instead conduct marketing techniques in person and on the street, like personally delivering sales packages and following up until given an opportunity for business.

Of course, many prospects will tell you they are satisfied with their current suppliers and don’t need more. So what? Once a potential customer realizes you’re a viable company, a call could come anytime. Our company has acquired a sizable amount of business over the years only because we marketed to prospects at the same time that they had a problem with an existing supplier. When they need you, the approval process is suddenly much faster. You may find yourself with a package of prints to quote, possibly because a previous supplier couldn’t survive turbulent times. Your consistent sales and marketing efforts let potential customers know that your shop is managing the situation and continuing to machine top-quality parts, albeit with fewer people.

Advertising and marketing companies also need business and may be willing to reduce their prices when times are lean, making it easier for you to experiment and analyze the effectiveness of certain activities, such as website and social media improvements, industrial directory listings, association memberships and updated sales materials. Find new ways to promote your shop while many competitors cut back on the very activities that build awareness. As the competition plays defense, go on offense and tell the world about your shop.

In a down market, advertising, marketing and sales must continue aggressively. Let prospects know that you want their business and you just may get it.    



Manager's Desk Columnist

Keith Jennings is president of Crow Corp., Tomball, Texas, a family-owned company focusing on machining, metal fabrication and metal stamping.