If you’re someone who keeps an eye on current events, you get the impression that the average person doesn’t have a huge pile of extra cash lying around.  It’s likely rising fuel, energy and food costs are indeed taking more money out of the hands of consumers. In turn, you may find yourself fighting harder than ever to retain or get customers due to a dip in discretionary spending.

A sluggish economy and heated competition can be a recipe for disaster for any business – especially small businesses. No matter how you cut it – you’re going to have to fight to flourish. 

Here are a few tips for winning a few marketing battles:

Avoid a Feud
If a strong competitor has begun to pull away some of your customers, avoid a direct marketing confrontation with them.  In other words, do not put out marketing pieces that essentially denigrate a rival. In most cases, the recipient of your barbs will come back at you harder and you will be forced to respond. Before you know it, your ads dollars will be channeled to attacking and rebutting a competitor’s claims. Avoid such exchanges and focus your message squarely on the merits of your business.

Your Initial Attack
If you have a limited budget and, seemingly, an unlimited number of competitors, try starting your marketing campaign with a “splash”.  This particular marketing technique is executed by spending a large portion of your marketing budget within the first month.  After this highly aggressive period of marketing, you’d begin to scale things back a bit. Let’s say, for instance, you were advertising on radio; you’d start the month off by airing three-to-six ads five days a week.  After the month was over, you’d pull your ads back to every other day or week.  The point is this strategy is designed to aggressively seek out attention.  Once you have it, you’re merely working to retain it.

Fight Where You Can Win
One of my clients recently told me that their product had made it to the shelves of a major grocery chain. I was excited to walk down the aisle to see their product – that is, until I saw their price. Their product price was at least double of everything adjacent to them – even the premium brands!  I noticed that the shelf was completely full with their product (apparently not too much being sold).  I simply believe that this small business is ill-equipped to be in this particular aisle.  Either they should drop their price to that of the premium brands, or find a store that carries similarly priced products.  The lesson: be mindful to compete in an area where you stand a chance of winning.

Walter Dailey is a marketing consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in radio ads and jinglesfor small to medium size businesses throughout the US and Canada.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com