Recession-Proof Your Practice
by Gloria Taylor Brown, Marketing Consultant and Diva Developer
The Dow Jones is down. The talk on the street is “Recession.” The pundits on the news say we have gone from irrational optimism to rational fear. The price of gas is approaching $3.50 per gallon, and could rise higher.
And you…you are sitting there with a small business or practice wondering, “What does this mean to me? What effect is this going to have on my business?” Maybe you are feeling the pinch already. Expenses are going up, you’re worried about income.
So, what can you do? I would like to offer the following three suggestions:
- Quantify your marketing: Most people have no idea what portion of their marketing dollars are producing sales. If you are advertising online, in the newspapers, in magazines, make sure each ad has its own quantifiable quality. You can do this by having a separate email address for people to contact, coupons exclusive to each newspapers or magazines that new clients bring in with them to receive discounts or free products. Always ask any new customers where they heard about you and keep a record of what they tell you. Use your results to guide you so that your marketing money is spent wisely.
- Institute a client appreciation program. Most of your marketing time and money is usually spent getting a customer to come in for the first time. And most small businesses and practices spend little or no time on their existing client base. Folks, this is your gold mine – existing clients can produce up to 90% of all income you receive. They deserve some attention and marketing dollars. Here are three suggestions for client appreciation:
- Call one to three clients daily that you haven’t seen lately. Make a goal of how many you will call in a month, and make sure you meet your goal. Offer a special discount for them to come back in. Listen closely to any reasons they give you for not returning – this will help you improve your services.
- Follow-up with existing clients: too few practitioners follow up to find out how their products or services are working. Set up a follow up program by phone, mail and/or email for every client. Provide them with good information content and they will look forward to hearing from you.
- Institute a referral program with sufficient benefits for the person doing the referral. Some people will refer you, anyway, but a program that rewards referrals will ensure that you get more referrals more often. What is sufficient reward will vary by business. This is where talking to your clients can help. The “value” of the reward should be a minimum of 10% of the first years “value” of the new client.
- My third suggestion is that you ally yourself with a compatible business or service that will allow you to cross sell to their clients. You may be able to do joint promotions that increase both your businesses. I’ll tell you how to do this and how it’s worked for some practitioners I know during my upcoming teleclasses.