Convincing Clients to Spend: 5 Tough Questions for Tough Economic Times.

- Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You don't need another reminder that we're working through a period of slow economic growth and a jittery business climate. But amongst all the doom and gloom, this stormy cloud comes with a silver lining for people working in Online Marketing and Web Design which are traditionally B2B consulting services.

Your prospects and clients probably realise that when times get tough they need to get creative and innovative with their products, their services and, most importantly, their marketing. It's a time to invest in the future and look inwardly at how you can improve, all so you can prepare for the next boom.
Despite this fact, it's no secret that you're finding it harder to close deals. But lets go back to basics: your pitching needs to begin with education, and education begins with asking the right questions. Here's some questions you should be asking your prospects to clinch your deals:

1. What's In Your Marketing Inventory - Is it working for you?

One simple activity I like to do is pull out a spreadsheet and line up all my advertising spending and how many leads each one is generating for me. 'Leads' can range from anything to phone calls, inquiry forms, direct emails, site registration for forum participation, leaving comments - whoops, there's one problem - I don't actually know how many customers I'm getting from all my offline advertising...

The point is that print ads like classified ads in the local paper and yellow pages ads are expensive and have declining reach and readership.
Most importantly, it's hard to measure how much business they generate for you. This is not to say they're valueless - but contrast this with an fully fledged online business. With concrete and clear metrics, you know the exact ROI of your online marketing campaigns. Best of all, you can optimize and redeploy online campaigns in a few hours - dollar for dollar, online is where the smart money is.

2. People are staying home, and staying online more - what are you doing about it?

Tight belts and high gas prices mean people are spending a lot more time at home in front of the TV and the computer. Where are they hanging out online? Have a think about this - you need to be advertising in their space, participating in their blogs and becoming an authority in their forums.

For example, let's  imagine you sell model train kits. You could be sponsoring some train modelling blogs and forums in return for some inexpensive and targeted advertising. These banners can link back to pages on your website which could be designed to educate, sell and encourage online community participation. All of which is 100% measurable, so if it's not effective - just cut the spending.

3. What's your Freemium Strategy?

People love free stuff and they love it even more when they haven't got much to spend. I'm not asking you to give away your products for free but what about online 'cash' coupons or discounts that they have to register on your website to receive? And once they've registered you'll be able to market to these customers in a monthly e-newsletter. We all have to move stock and attract new customers - so think about some clever online marketing strategies to do it...

4. Have you Cleaned your House yet?

Back to basics once more - now's the time to be pushing business branding and website makeovers. Is the website from 2003 looking a bit tired? Does it match up with your bricks and mortar branding? Does your customer service live up to your promises? Is your content up to date? Are your landing pages and catalogs well laid out and easy to use? Lets spring clean your whole online business 'house' and entice those customers back.

5. You are the Online Business Hero.

Working in a B2B industry, you're going to get worried business owners looking for advice and solutions to their problems. You can gain their trust by giving your expert advice for free. And to your clients?

Well you can tell them that anybody can make a dime when times are good. But true to the old saying, when times get tough...the tough get going.

So ask them: What are you doing to toughen up your (online) business?