More than 99 percent of black-owned businesses can be described as small businesses. They are literally the backbone of our community. Their success means job creation, more ownership and dollars that circulate and stay in our communities, critical elements for creating black wealth on a widespread level.
Unfortunately, most of these businesses lack crucial information on what it means to be a black business in America. For instance, there is talk now of a word that economists hate to use: Recession.
Nobody has confirmed that we are in a recession, but if you are a small, black-owned business, the economic downturn is having a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
Black businesses are usually the first to feel the effects of economic downturn. They feel it worse than others, and they feel it longer.
Here are seven steps about the “Guerilla Marketing’’ approach that allows small businesses to succeed in the midst of crisis:
1. Reality-based knowledge.
Base all your marketing decisions on the reality of the situation in which you find yourself, and not on wishful thinking. Always be open to learning more about your market.
2. Go against the current.
When things start going slowly in the business world, conventional wisdom says you should cut back on the marketing. This will only speed up your demise. If business is slowing down, and marketing is how you make money, then now is the time to focus not just on marketing, but on outstanding marketing. Your business should not die just because other people’s ventures will. Businesses that market aggressively and consistently usually survive the downturns. Sometimes, they even flourish during the downturns.
3. When you have less money, use more T.I.I.E.
If you don’t have a $100 million marketing budget, you can still use a small amount of marketing money successfully by focusing on more Time, Information, Innovation and Energy to compensate. This does take more of a commitment, but if you are willing, you will be able to create a low-budget marketing campaign that can have the impact of millions of dollars.
4. Don’t be afraid to get help.
Marketing is a science that everyone thinks they can do. The bottom line, however, does not lie. When should you consider getting professional help? When you are trying and you know it’s just not producing a good enough result. Building wealth is far more important than holding onto your pride. If you need help, let a good professional do it, or at least guide you to better results.
5. Give more.
When things get desperate, it sometimes becomes easy to focus only on your needs. But remember that you are in business to serve your market. Be generous with your clients and give them valuable information, free consultations, gifts, bonuses, etc. Go the extra mile, especially for your best customers, and watch your business explode.
6. Focus on relationship.
Remember that the goal of business is not the sale but the relationship. When somebody knows you, likes you, or trusts you, you can have a customer for life. So treat every customer like they are more than just the money to pay your rent. People feel that, and are turned off by it. Build a relationship by constantly adding value to the lives of your customers.
7. Find the hidden treasure chest in your business.
The greatest marketing cost for a business is getting new customers. The funny thing about this is that many people who have some customers are too busy wasting all of their time, energy and money looking for new customers. They don’t realize that the treasure lies in the customers they already have. People who have already spent money with you are the easiest ones to convince to do it again. Start thinking about new ways to market to your current customers. I bet you would be surprised by how much you can make from your current customers. You have been sitting on a golden egg all along.
Aunkh Aakhu is a freelance marketing consultant. AunkhAakhu@Yahoo.com