We are hearing it all the time - at networking events, on the phone, in the restaurant, even within the family. Yes, the economy is going through some difficult times, although we are not convinced that it would be as bad if it wasn't for the media having an easy story to sensationalize.

But with so many tightening their purse strings, often the first area businesses try and save in is marketing (for those that have an active budget; here in the Northwest, many don't). You wouldn't believe how many times we hear these comments, "business is tough, so we need to just keep things tight and ride the difficult times."

It should, however be quite the contrary. If business has taken a down turn, then this is a fantastic opportunity to be doing what others aren't - stepping up your marketing activity. Your success in business depends on the decisions that you make.

While it is true that the economy is going to fluctuate and that things are going to happen which will make business difficult, but that is not surprising, is it? There are businesses thriving at the moment, so what are they doing that others aren’t? It could be that good luck is with them, but how is it that certain businesses have all the good luck? Maybe that their good luck is down to the actions they take - planning, education, training, effective marketing, customer service and so on.

It is at times like this that the proactive and innovative businesses are going to stand out from the norm. The question is: do you want to be part of the norm or do you want to be at the top of your league? Where do your competitors want to be placed? If they decide to take on this challenge presented by a slow economy, what impact could that have on you if you want to 'dig in’?

If you decide to become innovative, you will see that there is a plethora of tools available around you to make your marketing give the returns you want. So, ask yourself a very honest question: "Could I be doing more to market my business?" If the answer is yes, then ignorance, not economy is your greatest threat.

A few tips to help you on your way:

  1. Define your uniqueness: Find out what makes you different. Once you know, brag about it and let the world know.
  2. Test and measure: Test and measure your marketing to see what works and what doesn’t. Save money where it isn't working and spend more where it is.
  3. Clearly identify your target: The best marketing piece in the world is wasted if not targeted correctly (e.g. advertising stair lifts in Loaded would not be terribly effective!)
  4. Increase your knowledge: Hire a coach, read books, go to seminars, join some good courses or do whatever it takes to invest in yourself because you are your business’ most important asset.