As a drought empties waterways of water leaving things underneath clearly visible, an economic slowdown also tends to remove excess and provides a better perspective of things. This is certainly true in the world of marketing. Some industries are straining to determine the marketing tactics that even work. Print advertising? It's taking a beating, no matter what your rep is saying. Yellowpages? My copy at home is shrinking every time I get one. Direct mail has been a mainstay for decades...an old, reliable direct marketing tactic. But even that has taken a beating lately as response rates have fallen. These will all come back because over the long-haul, they are how people receive information.
But what's working now? Two things mainly. The first includes things internet. The very nature of the internet (other than access, it's free) lends itself to an inexpensive, information-rich way to shop. And it's only getting better. Mass email campaigns (if you have the addresses) are reasonable. Search engine optimization, and moving up in the search engine ranking for prospect visibility is still 'relatively' inexpensive. Pay-per-click programs either through the search engines or a private resource (like Superpages.com) is pretty reasonable...and is the most controllable of the tactics. And the popularity of social media (sites like LinkedIn and Facebook) has really taken off. I would suggest that if you haven't already invested in this medium, to start. That's because you can get pretty quick returns if you utilized correctly...and because it's only going to grow in importance.
The other tactic is referral marketing. This is working with companies that serve the same target market as you but don't compete directly. We're all connected, no matter how bad things get. And as long as there is demand, then your connections can work for you. But you have to put time and attention into this too. This is a relationship-oriented tactic where you target like-minded people to exchange business. The problem with this is that it's rarely immediate. But in terms of building business, there's really nothing better. And the nice thing is that you can work with internet social media tools here too.
I'm interested in hearing other things that may be working for you right now? How about tv/radio? Print ads? Billboards?