Marketing through the downturn

Written by ProfitGuide

As Canada’s economy slows, every company is looking to reduce its operating costs. But sales and marketing shouldn’t be one of the first areas you slash. It may be counter-intuitive, but in recession, you need to stand out from the crowd and get more customers.

What’s more, there are plenty of creative and inexpensive ways to get new business for your company. Here are the best tips and tactics from the women CEOs on the 2008 PROFIT 100 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies.

“The No. 1 thing people don’t do is ask for referrals. They don’t want to ask people they network with for referrals. Sales 101 — ask for the business. One reason for our success is we are out there asking and continuously trying to drive sales.”

— VICTORIA SOPIK, President & CEO, Kids & Company, Markham, Ont.

“One of the things that we try to do, because we’re offering solutions and very custom stuff, is we try to understand the industry. Three years ago, ethanol wasn’t even on the map, but in the last two years we’re almost dedicated to it. The thing is, we figured out how an ethanol plant worked, who the players are, who’s doing what, what are the problems for the farmers. So, you learn the whole industry even though you’re only a part of it. It’s a relationship thing. You have to figure out what your customer needs, and what his problem is, rather than just sell a piece of equipment that he may or may not need.”

— JILL ANDERSON, President, Acomentric Corp., Markham, Ont.

“Almost all of our competitors have bigger budgets; a bigger market share and they have the resources to market a lot more strongly than we do. So, we’ve had to get creative. Branding has been key for us. Our company offers such a young, fresh dynamic alternative to our competitors. We’ve capitalized on that by branding ourselves into that niche. And we make sure that brand is consistent across all our marketing options, including our website and our print marketing.”

— CARRIE ROWAN, President, Absolute Recruitment, Mississauga, Ont.

“We do a lot of sponsorships and events locally and across Canada. We sponsor mountain biking events, trail running events and other outdoor events, because they represent our company culture. And we also give out a lot of product samples. It generates huge word of mouth.”

— ELANA ROSENFELD, President, Kicking Horse Coffee Co., Invermere, B.C.

“Our most important tactic is outbound sales activity. We do everything from cold calling to telemarketing. Everybody seems to think they can do without it, but it’s the basics. It’s why we’re in business and how we continue to have business come in. As soon as you slow down or take your eye off the ball, that’s when the growth stops.”

— PJ FERGUSON, President, ABL Employment Inc., Burlington, Ont.

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