In order to survive a recession a small business needs to adjust to a new reality.
The fact is that your customers are still spending money, they are just being more careful and tend to do more research before they are buying anything.
Customers are shopping around for the best deals. They will also be more willing to postpone a purchase or buy a less deluxe version of something. Depending upon the type of business you operate you can counter this by offering temporary price promotions, quantity discounts and smaller pack sizes. In tough times lower prices will tend to attract more customers than sweepstakes or mail in offers.
If you buy inventory, be aware of discounts and specials offered by your suppliers. Look for early payment or cash discounts, extended financing and more generous return policies. More than ever value your employees. Emphasize that you have made it through bad times before and you are going to survive this recession too. Make sure that they understand the importance of maintaining quality and servicing your customers.
Remember that the very nature of marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade. Mass media like newspaper ads, radio and TV ads are no longer the kingpins of an advertising program. The Internet and social marketing are coming of age as the new powerhouses.
Your marketing research will help guide you on how to adjust your marketing to this new world. Make sure that any paid advertising that you use is closely monitored. You need to make sure that you are getting actual benefits from it.
Remember that during a recession most businesses will cut back on their advertising. That means that great deals are out there if you ask so always remember to ask for discounts on newspaper ads and printed materials.
You should also try more ways than ever before to generate your traffic. Small businesses should look to multiple sources of new traffic: referrals, advertising, direct sales, mailers, web site, search ads.
Now is also the time to be more creative in your marketing efforts. Look for low cost opportunities to get your name out. Look around you for creative ideas in other industries that you can adapt for your business.