Recession-proof your marketing: Improve your bottom line by growing online

November 15th, 2008 by LaunchPad Media

To compete and prevail in this recession, marketing executives should use online tools that will produce leads and generate sales more cost-effectively than traditional media.

1. SEO means ROI. Search Engine Optimization is an inexpensive way to attract new consumers. Whether people are searching for coupons, sweepstakes, recipes, games, advice or e-community, SEO will help draw them to your site.

2. ONLINE ANALYTICS enable you to do low-cost experiments and measure to see if the results warrant further investment. By contrast, testing via traditional advertising is an expensive proposition — producing and running TV, radio and newspaper ads often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then testing through a consumer research agency makes it even more expensive. What if the ad flops; how much money went down the drain? But online analytics enables you to evaluate consumer response to an ad with great precision and at low cost.

3. ADVERTISING. Interactive, motion graphic ads attract more attention and have more impact than print ads. Imagine if you were reading a print magazine and suddenly an ad started moving on the page. Imagine if you were watching a TV spot and, with a click of your remote control, could print a copy of the information it contained. Online ads have a power that only “Mad Men” could dream of – the power to grab eyeballs, to lure viewers to another site, and to instantly sell and transact. In a recession, when consumers are reluctant to spend, it’s an amazing advantage to be able to move people from curiosity to commerce in a few clicks.

4. COUPONS have more appeal in a recession. Bargain-hunters surf and seek with a vengeance because the survival instinct is at work. Offering an online coupon sends a double message: we know you need and deserve a discount; and we are so confident that you’ll like our product we will give you an incentive to try it. Coupons speak louder than copy.

5. SOCIAL NETWORKS enable you to pitch consumers who are often unreachable by traditional media. Young consumers are surprisingly receptive to corporate outreach at social sites because they like being recognized and pitched as members of a unique community.

6. E-BLASTS are the inexpensive “mass mailings” of today. They allow you to reinforce your loyalists and, through email rental lists, target and test new niches.

7. GAMES help make a site “sticky.” In a recession, consumers need to be cheered up and they appreciate free entertainment. It doesn’t cost much to create an interactive game, and it can attract many new visitors to a site.

8. CONTESTS/SWEEPS. The 2 most powerful words in advertising are “free money.” Rewards are even more alluring in a recession. And in a time when everyone is feeling financially pinched, it’s more likely that friends will email friends to let them know about a chance to win prizes. “If you win, we’ll split it,” they often say, half-jokingly.

9. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS. You can reduce costs by forging strategic alliances with organizations willing to co-sponsor a charitable event or contest promotion. Perhaps they’ll provide big prizes – products, services or cash – to have their name publicized along with yours. Perhaps they’ll share in paying for advertising, or use their PR resources, or e-blast a promotion to employees and customers.

10. ONLINE PR – When news releases, blog outreach, and other PR efforts are in synch with ads, coupons, games, etc., online PR can help pop a promotion into the viral-sphere. “Going viral” is the ultimate in recession-proofing; it means consumers are spreading the word about you for free. “Free” should be as powerful a word to marketing executives as it is to consumers.

Alex Poulos is the president and co-founder of LaunchPad media, an award-winning creative agency in Watertown, Massachusetts.