Marketing in Good Times and Bad

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Recent downturns in the economy need not affect a business-to-business marketing campaign. When managed correctly, businesses can feel little or no effect from such periodic downturns. The two imperative components of a marketing campaign are to identify profitable prospects and maintain a database of ongoing profitable customers. Managing, analyzing and collecting relevant market and business data can help turn market downturns into market opportunities.


What specific industries should you target? Integrating information specific to your company's products or services into list selection criteria can create a highly targeted marketing list that your competitors do not have access to, thus giving your company a profound marketing advantage of pre-qualified prospects.


Analytical and forecasting tools such as industry-specific demand estimators can pinpoint your best prospects that need, use and purchase specific products or services. Examples of industry-specific demand estimators that are readily available include office supply consumption, number of personal computers, monthly long-distance spending, number of telephone lines, expected copy volume, commercial real estate square footage and even electric/gas usage.


Custom demand estimators can also be developed to target your unique product offering. These analytical tools can be applied to almost 12 million U.S. business prospects, of which 8 million are very small businesses (fewer than 10 employees) with significant purchasing power.


But are your prospects creditworthy? Demand estimators, while excellent for identifying prospects, do not tell the whole story. Marketers need to weed out businesses that have a likelihood of paying late or not paying at all. Appending a commercial credit score or failure score can do this simple task. These scores can be customized to suit any company's specific needs and thresholds and may include recommended credit limits. Identifying and avoiding these risky prospects reduces the likelihood that your credit department will reject the eventual sale and reduces the likelihood of adding a credit risk to your existing client base.


The screening never stops. Because the performance of your company relies on the financial standing of your customers, clients and prospects, it is imperative to have up-to-date information and market intelligence to remain prosperous during changing and challenging economic times. The credit screening process should not be done just once; it should be an ongoing part of marketing. A company's credit situation is likely to change over time, and companies that were once on-time paying customers can quickly turn into deadbeat dot-coms.


The family tree - haven't we met? Knowing how companies are related can uncover hidden relationships, business expansion opportunities and connectivity among companies. In addition, an excellent indicator of a company's current and future performance is the financial state of the related companies on its corporate family tree. Knowing how companies are related can help avoid extending credit to a subsidiary of a company that just filed for bankruptcy or can identify new prospects that are related to current customers.


Information: the key to marketing success. If you target the wrong prospects, your business is doomed. No one will buy what you are offering. If you sell to businesses that cannot pay their bills, you will fail, and your company may end up on a bad-credit-risk report. If you sell to fraudulent businesses, you may be the one left holding the bag. If you are selling to a division of a large corporation, wouldn't it make sense to leverage the existing relationship to generate increased business?


In any economic time, marketing decisions should be based on sound research and relevant information. Partnering with a business information company can provide marketers with the tools and information to identify the best prospects, identify risky customers and prospects, and uncover business opportunities and risks among existing clients.
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