When the economy is in recession, the last thing you want to do is spend resources on sales pitches that lead nowhere. One great mantra preached by marketing gurus is to invest in developing strong customer relationships, which will build a large customer base to get you through rougher periods. If you haven’t done that, don’t panic. Here are some tips to keep you afloat in troubled times.

Sell to existing customers

When sales are slow, selling to existing customers is cheaper and easier. The reasons are simple – you’ve got their attention already and built a relationship based on trust and credibility and, most importantly, given them reason enough not to fall prey to your competitors’ advances. You know their buying history, so offering them products and services that complement their original purchase is vital. Using e-mail management software like Constant Contact in conjunction with Pinnacle Cart allows you to stay in contact with your existing customer.

“Free” is a very attractive word

Nothing grabs attention like the word “free” when you see it online. Send out free newsletters or offer a free trial period. Many websites offer a complimentary service and then charge for a detailed report. For example, astrology sites will give you a high-level reading of your birth chart free of charge and offer specific dates predicting events in your life for a fee.

Find lucrative advertising deals

Participate in pay-per-click advertising programs or even better, pay-per-sale. Using iDevAffilaite in conjunction with Pinnacle Cart allows you to create a commission based sales force where you only pay affiliates when they make a sale. In tough economic times pay-per-sale programs make much more sense for your business as there isn’t any upfront costs involved.

Publish yourself online

Generate free press for yourself by writing articles in ezines, blogs, forums, podcasts & RSS, mini-sites and social networking sites. You will build credibility for yourself and be seen as something of an expert in your field. If you don’t have the means to do it, hire freelance writers to do the job for you. Negotiate with the hosting information/content site to publish your name, a short byline and your website URL with the article. Or better still, start an ezine yourself.

Be visible all the time

Make sure you’re on your customers’ radar when they may need a product or service that you offer. Create mailing lists for this purpose by asking visitors to your website to complete a simple registration form. Then send them emails about discounts and news items like current trends in that area. For example, clothing stores send emails announcing sales that have children’s jackets for $14 with free shipping. The kids don’t need another jacket but such attractive information coming into your mailbox definitely warrants a peek at the product.

Don’t limit yourself to online advertising

Your business may be online but your advertising doesn’t have to be. Advertise judiciously in newspapers, or TV and radio, or send press releases that are fed into several online and offline PR channels.

There’s nothing we can do to stop the recession but we can make the best of it. Following these tips will help you increase sales as well as drive traffic to your website, which in turn, generates more sales.

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