Is it proper etiquette to try and grab customers from your competitors during a recession? Absolutely! Any time is the right time to go after market share.
Times are tough, right? How can you get your competition's customers to switch to you? Here are some dos and don'ts for keeping it classy while gaining more customers.
DO continue your marketing efforts.
Downturns are when the biggest shifts happen in market share. If your competitors stop spending or cut budgets for sales and marketing, it's your opportunity to attract attention and get noticed by their customers.
DO focus on your core type of customers.
Stick with the customers that you know best. Who buys from you through thick and thin? If you're an airline that primarily caters to business travelers, then target business travelers. If you're having success selling life insurance to 30 to 40-year-olds with teen and tween kids, then stick with them. Now may not be the time to go after an entirely new audience.
DON'T target your competitors by name.
It's just my opinion, but I think it's better to take the high road. If you directly name your competitor, it can come off as a little underhanded and unsportsmanlike. I have recently noticed more insurance company ads on TV using competitors' names when talking about who has the lowest rates. You may gain customers in the short term, but they might be fickle! Also, make sure you deliver on your promises. If not, your competition will most likely point it out.
DO promote what makes you better.
You can indirectly say that you offer something that's better than the competition. In late 2008, McDonald's ran billboard ads that simply said, "four bucks is dumb. now serving espresso." It was a rather obvious jab at Starbucks' higher pricing. Reportedly, the advertising and publicity from the billboards increased McDonald's coffee sales by 30% in 2008.
DO consider adjusting your product strategy.
Think of new ways to give customers what they want. If you're in financial services, customers may want more hand-holding. You could offer free consultations or conduct seminars to help reassure your customers and give them face time with you. Consider creating a blog containing topics and information that's relevant to your customers. Start a Twitter account that provides customer service and support - check out Wells Fargo - or offers discounts and coupons. It could also be a good time to launch new products that suit your core customers' changing needs.
DON'T panic and lower your prices.
Many companies are focusing on price in their marketing and advertising. And yes, price is an important factor for most consumers right now. While a price cut to make your product or service more appealing than the competition may feel like a good idea, in the long run it can undermine the foundation of your products or services. Besides, at some point, you're going to want to raise prices again.
So, go out there and get more market share. What are you doing to take your competitors' customers? If you have any experiences with targeting competitors by name, lowering prices, or adjusting your product strategies, post a comment. I would love to hear from you!
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