Back in 2008, when homes sold for pennies on the dollar, swimming pool manufacturer Marcus Sheridan had to think fast. After all, if a customer had to struggle to keep a roof over his or her head, how would s/he afford the luxury of a pool?
Enter blogging. As low-cost as marketing gets, a blog can inform potential customers about a product and related topics without high-pressure sales for only the price of Internet connectivity.
Providing Useful Information Boosted the Company’s Trust Factor
Sheridan began to write, reports content marketer Beth Hayden in her article for Copyblogger. What Sheridan got correct from the start was to inform rather than to sell potential customers on the benefits of a swimming pool. He thought of every question a potential pool owner could possibly ask, then answered each question with a detailed blog post. When he received an objection from a customer, Sheridan didn’t whine. He posted the objection—in the form of a question—on his blog.
Customers began to notice. Swimming enthusiasts and pool owners began to spread the word. Marcus Sheridan was an authority on pools. If a person didn’t know how to perform a given maintenance task on his or her pool, they, more often than not, consulted Sheridan’s blog. If one couldn’t find the answer there, the information probably didn’t exist in print.
The result? Through his positioning his brand at the top of the heap during tough times, Sheridan’s company more than survived the recession. His website, River Pools, attracts more visitors worldwide than any other in the entire industry. Sheridan himself helps other fledgling businesses promote their own work through blogging and social media posts. Though he could hire an expensive ad agency, he continues to promote his business through blogging, social media, and e-books.
Online promotion, after all, is a dirt-cheap way to build brand awareness and industry authority. When one becomes the go-to guy or gal with all the answers, one becomes the one with the lion’s share of the business.
Providing Useful Resources Offline Also Boosts a Brand’s Trust Factor
Offline, a business also needs to find creative ways to promote its work. Startup ThredUp, a company who sells used apparel, sends a booklet out with every order. In the booklet, customers find even more ways to use recycled clothing to save money and save the environment. It combines its online message with the one in print form, both of which capitalize on two powerful urges—the urge to save money and the urge to do something that lasts longer than one’s life. ThredUp needn’t worry about the economy. It, like Sheridan’s River Pools, has found a way to promote its business that can thrive no matter what the world throws at it.
Other companies, too, can find low-cost ways to promote their work, both online and off. Many successful companies combine an entertaining and informative social media presence with tangible, real-world promotional gear. Low cost—we’re talking T-shirts and pencils here—but combined with the familiar logo from the companies’ blogs, the brands make themselves known both on the street and on the ‘Net with useful products and useful information.
Find a way to make a company useful for potential customers, and it will make a huge impact on its target market. That’s how to recession-proof a business.