Tough economic times call for innovative solutions. I’ve heard it said that some of the strongest companies are started and flourish in economic recessions or depressions. Our current economic climate is no different: the companies that thrive right now are the ones that are approaching their problems with original solutions that allow them to develop greater ways to bring their products to their consumers.
In his article “Local Merchants Utilizing Social Media More as Confidence Remains Flat”, Chris Crum talks about how companies are using today’s internet marketing tools to increase their business profiles, while still keeping an eye on their finances. He points to MerchantCircle’s “Merchant Confidence Index”, which shows that the levels of confidence a group of 10,000 merchants have in the current economy is pretty flat, but that these same merchants are “more prominently using social media as a free online marketing tool to increase their customer base and revenue.”
And why not use social networking? Social networking will cost your company manpower hours to set up and monitor it on a regular basis, but not much more. Large audiences are available to your company through a variety of social media offerings. And with cost to benefit ratio on the side of the merchant, it makes sense to direct your limited marketing budget towards modern solutions. As the vice president of marketing for MerchantCircle, notes “we were pleased to see that most aren’t planning for layoffs or pay cuts for employees. Small business owners are continuing to become web savvy in their marketing by increasingly augmenting traditional advertising with free methods like social networking to generate additional business.”
With growing options in social media tools, it is interesting to watch which ones are growing and which ones have matured over the last few years. It seems like most people know about Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter these days, but merchants are reaching out for even newer solutions. Location-based services are reaching higher levels of familiarity with merchants. “For example, MerchantCircle says today, 16% of merchants are familiar with Foursquare, whereas in Q1 of 2010, the number was only 8%. Likewise, 32% of merchants that are aware of Foursquare are using it to promote their business, compared to 25% in Q1.
It seems that the key in uncertain economic times is to be creative and take a few risks. Merchants are doing just that, as proven by Crum’s observation that “It is worth noting that this is the first time social networking has eclipsed all other marketing channels to become the most popular among survey participants since MerchantCircle has been doing the survey.” So, as a merchant, your can be part of the past or create new solutions with the growing tools of the present.