Shift happens - SMBs tell staff 'just sell harder' to address economic challenges

    "Now is the time to be firing on all marketing cylinders."

    TORONTO, Aug. 18 /CNW/ - A survey of SMB (Small to Mid Size Business)
owners across Canada shows most have made changes to marketing strategy due to
the economic downturn - but these changes mostly focused on increasing sales
    "I refer to this as the 'just sell harder' strategy to growing your
business. Doing more of the same but expecting different results," explained
Carolyn Reid, President, Red Wheel Marketing.
    Red Wheel Marketing surveyed 25 SMB business owners/presidents located
across Canada last month, in a July, 2009 survey, to gauge changes in
marketing and sales strategies in the recession.

    Findings include:

    -   76% of businesses have been affected by the economic downturn

    -   50% addressed the market downturn by dropping prices

    -   Business owners/presidents expected the same or better results from
        sales reps

    -   None of the companies surveyed provided a new or different sales
        support such as selling tools, lead generation or incentives

    "Very few business owners made strategic changes - except for dropping
prices. But now is the time to be firing on all marketing cylinders - in all
marketing areas. Our survey respondents are focused on promotional activity -
mainly selling. But without addressing other marketing strategies you have
critical missing links and will not get optimal traction," added Ms. Reid.
    Instead, Ms. Reid advised, SMBs should do a 'recession re-think' of their

    1.  First and foremost, understand your customers' changing needs
        -  Ask them how the recession is affecting their business; how their
           challenges and opportunities are changing. What are their current
           business issues?

    2.  Rethink marketing strategies
        -  Do address pricing strategy, but don't drop prices
        -  Consider developing a 'recession buster' offering that customers
           just can't ignore
        -  Re-examine key marketing strategy areas: target sectors, your
           product or service offering, pricing, positioning and promotions
        -  Tempting as it may seem, don't jump right to promotions. Do
           promotions last as the other strategy areas will inform it
        -  Have a fresh perspective

    3.  Align sales with new strategies
        - Structure, tactics, process
        - Equip sales team with tools & training needed

    "Do not hang sales reps out to dry," she stated.
    "The tendency is to freeze all expenditures in a recession. But history
has proven that businesses that can invest in marketing stand out, fill the
void, and make great traction," added Ms. Reid.

    Red Wheel Marketing is an outsourced marketing company hired by SMBs to
develop practical marketing strategy and plans; build marketing programs and
tools; implement marketing plans; and, provide ongoing marketing management.

For further information:

For further information: To interview Carolyn Reid, or view the Red
Wheel Marketing SMB Survey Results Summary, please contact: Teresa Donia,
iAMBIC Communications Inc., or (905) 508-5550

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