How to Grow Your Business in a Recession

Over the past year I’ve noticed certain businesses within my home state of Florida who’ve continued to grow and thrive – in spite of a poor overall economy. On the other hand, many others who share the exact same niche have either closed their doors completely or seem to be barely hanging on.  Are the successful businesses doing things differently from the others? They definitely are. It only becomes more apparent in the face of a recession.

Obviously, there’s not a one-size-fits-all fix for every business type.  The auto industry and the housing market are good examples of how some industries will naturally be hit much harder than others.

There are plenty of businesses, however, who can benefit from the piece of advice I’m about to share with you. It’s the same “golden nugget” that was shared with me by a Multi-Millionaire Investor who imparted it to me while sitting at his kitchen table (of all places), talking about his latest business venture.

For me, it was nothing short of a revelation that wound up transforming my own marketing methods from that point forward. It continues to work – to this very day. In fact, it’s working better today than it ever has before. Hopefully, you’re awake enough to catch this as you’re reading this. If the bell goes off, you’ve got it. If not, well, let’s just say – I tried!

One day, we were having a snack together, talking about business and he said, “I don’t buy products or services.  Try selling me products and services and up goes my buying resistance.  I buy value. Approach me with ‘value’ and you’ll get my attention. If I can see or calculate the value of what you’re talking about… or see it clearly in my mind, I don’t mind paying a higher price. If I don’t immediately see the value, I don’t even want to part with $5.00.”

Did you understand what he said?

Let me fill in one of the blanks.  You have to know the people who’ll potentially be spending their money with you and understand what they’re looking for before you’ll be able to provide them with what they’re looking for. Perception is everything. If they can’t see value, they’ll move on and spend their money somewhere else.

Understanding this will make can have a huge impact upon your business…  and ultimately, how much money you make. For me, it was a lesson to last a lifetime.  A glass of water may have a fixed value in the city, but bring that same amount of water to a desert and suddenly its value begins to soar.

More than ever, people are measuring the value of the products and services they’re considering buying before parting with their hard-earned money.  They’re spending less on entertainment and are spending more and more time at home.  The birth of the $1.00 video machines (Rebox, Blockbuster) and services such as Netflix (which provides convenient “movies in the mail” without late fees attached) has brought video stores to the brink of extinction. The days of Blockbuster stores charging almost $6.00 for a one-night rental are gone. In fact, it seems as through Blockbuster stores in general are just about gone.

The video rental model is just one of many examples of perceived value and how to sell products and services during a recession.

People still buy things “they can’t afford,” they’re just doing it more moderately. People want entertainment. In many ways, they need it.  They just want it in a more affordable form because the value they’ve placed on paying a premium amount for “entertainment” has greatly diminished.

How about your business? In the eyes of your clients, what type of value do your products and services provide? It’s not so much your own perception; it’s what your customers or clients believe that matters in the end.  You may think you have the best products in your market, but unless your clients feel the same, you’ll bottom line will reflect their beliefs – not yours.

It’s not a matter of providing the cheapest products as some inexperienced or new business people might believe. It’s a matter of creating the proper “perceived value” with what you’re offering. In marketing, perception is everything. If people believe something, to them it’s true – even if (in reality) it isn’t. And they act accordingly. If you have the best product and service on the market, but people believe that a competitor’s is better, they’ll respond accordingly.

How do you change people’s perception of what you’re selling? You start by changing the way you’re marketing.

For years, “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” propelled Papa John’s to the head of the ultra-competitive “Pizza-pack.”

How much better where the ingredients?  That’s anyone’s guess, but one thing is for certain, you DID pay a little bit more for a Papa John’s pizza. Now, all that’s changed.

Dominos Pizza is successfully changing their image with their “totally new recipe” pizza that has allegedly been reengineered from the ground up. They have struck back with a vengeance and are generating winner numbers both with their customers and the company stock.

With your own business, you may find yourself in a similar position – having the change your product’s “ingredients.” Or, possibly a few tweaks here and there to the company “menu?”

As you can see by these examples, times change, buying habits change, the competition changes, etc. Sometimes, though, all it takes is a few small adjustments and you can turn everything around and be back in business again. In Domino’s case, their pizzas are still made out of dough, cheese and sauce.  Right? Same ingredients – just put together via a different recipe.

As a consultant, I meet people all the time who are in the right business – using the wrong recipe. They make enough sales to pay some bills, but not enough to really thrive in their niche. Whether you develop this marketing method on your own, or with the help of someone like myself, learning how to create value in the eyes of your customers may very well be the best piece of “crossroads marketing advice” you’ll ever receive.

Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano is an online consultant and author who began doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services are focused in the area's of SEO and website publicity. Jim has been interviewed by variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News in New York.

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5 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Business in a Recession

  1. I’m one of those people at a crossroads. I may very well have to reinvent myself because I’ve basically painted myself into a corner. Without going into detail, I’ve basically devalued my service to the point where it’s difficult to sell it any longer in my particular area or niche. I don’t know if such a thing is possible?

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