Recently I was speaking with a local business owner, Renée Fair, proprietor of The Candy Store in Owen Sound. Since her business is just one year old, I asked Renée if the current economy is impacting her business. I was surprised to hear that she is not only surviving, but thriving. Her business continues to grow in spite of the fact that she only stocks high-end candy and treats.
At a recent “Moonlight Madness” event in downtown, Renée tells me her sales were almost double what they were a year ago. She had about the same amount of traffic in her store, but people were buying more!
That kind of threw me for a loop. Listening to the news – the auto industry threatening to collapse, stock markets plummeting, real estate falling – I’d have expected her business to have gone down.
Renée speculates that people may be looking for more traditional items – candy vs. electronics – as a way to weather this economic crisis. She stocks many old-style candies that people would remember from their childhood and customers are purchasing them as a comfort.
Renée’s experience with The Candy Shop got me to wondering if other businesses are thriving in this economy and how they’re doing it. I put the word out to my social networks and got some wonderful responses.
One of my LinkedIn connections, Neal Evan Caminsky, told me business is booming. He wrote:
“Over the past few months, my company, Red Dream Studios, has actually been busier than it ever has been. I think the key to our success has been the diversification in our product offering. While many of my competitors cater to only one or two disciplines, such as ONLY offering website design, or ONLY offering graphic design, Red Dream Studios excels in many areas of digital marketing and digital production.
So where we’ve seen declines in our video production services (because this tends to be a higher priced commodity), we’ve picked up the slack in producing more websites, which tend to be cheaper-costing but higher in volume.”
Sharon Seligman, a realtor in Austin, is able to look at the bright side of the economic downturn. First, while lower prices aren’t great for sellers, buyers can get a good investment, whether it is a starter or luxury home.
There is an overlooked up side to the economic downturn in the real estate market. Sharon writes, “many people who flock to the business when it is very active, thinking they will make quick money, are leaving. That is good for other agents and it is especially good for our clients. The result is a stronger, more professional group of agents.” Way to find a silver lining Sharon!
Nick Matteucci‘s company provides project and portfolio management software. Instead of selling these usually expensive products, his company provides them as a low cost monthly service. Hosted on his company’s servicers, customers don’t need their own servers, data centers, nor support teams. Nick writes:
“Companies shunned us since they were uncomfortable having data outside their walls and their IT staff was more then happy to spend up to 1 million dollars bringing solutions in house.
Well – all that has changed and companies have no choice but to look at SaaS offerings. We started SaaS offerings 5 years ago and our competitors are trying to push their offerings out the door faster then US automakers can invent hybrids.
The bad news? No sleep for us. We are trying to handle every sales opportunity professionally and the 1 am’s are really piling up!”
Linda Coles commented “What recession?” Linda has chosen to basically ignore the talk and keep trucking ahead. So far, this strategy is working. Sharon said, “By 10am Monday morning this week, I had picked up another 2 clients, so they are still out there. I am not burying my head in the sand, just keeping on the up.”
Candace Burton, owner of Candy Bags, makes eco friendly hand bags and accessories. Until recently Candance’s sales have been limited and she was worried a recession would kill what sales she did have. This has not been the case. “Much to my surprise this Christmas sales have gone through the roof,” says Candace. “I believe it is because my customers are not only looking for unique hand crafted gifts, but they are also shopping Green.”
Nancy McCord felt the recession earlier this year. August sales were very slow and stayed that way until November. Business in December is very strong. How has Nancy done it?
“Advertising, tapping customer referrals, working my social networking programs, blogging, and excellent follow-up with each and every contact made through my marketing approaches and web forms.
In my slow time, I fine tuned my marketing message, changed my ad landing pages, increased my PPC budget, worked on my website, and took time to help prospects with referrals to other businesses even if I could not help them.
But most of all I kept a positive focus. I kept doing what I knew worked and was right, tried some new things, and just kept plugging away. I was active in my professional community on forums, actively worked on my blog, took time to thank each person personally who commented on my blog, and created a new review program for one of our several services.
Then, it just all clicked, the phone started ringing again and more leads than I could handle appeared. I think that many businesses just had to get over the “Big Scare” to push forward with business as usual.”
Keith Thirgood started his business during the recession of 1982 and has survived every recession and downturn since. They’ve done it by doing more marketing.
“While your competition is trying to survive the downturn by cutting investment in their business, the smart companies are increasing their investments in marketing. It has two effects. 1. They show the world that they’re still in business while their competitors seem to have disappeared. 2. Their expenditure has way more impact as they don’t have to compete for their target market’s attention, as their competitors’ marketing is absent. So they get twice the bang for the buck.
The brave companies eat their competitors’ lunch while their competitors try to save their way to success. Every one of the companies who followed our advice during previous recessions maintained their sales during those recessions and came out of them stronger than their competition.”
Each of these businesses is different but is managing to thrive in a slow economy. How have they done it? Diversification, hitting on a hot trend, having products customers really want, marketing like crazy and keeping positive.
So next time you turn on the news and it sounds like the sky is falling, look around at businesses that are staying the course. By modeling what they do, your business could be one that thrives as well.
Andrea J. Stenberg
Great article Andrea! I’ve seen a number of articles that provide a needed balance from doom and gloom. What you’ve done that’s especially powerful is to provide real examples.
On the topic of marketing, one great way to differentiate yourself is to do physical mailings. A great low cost way of doing that is Sendout Cards (http://sendoutcards.com/hd); you can send not only greeting cards but also announcements or newsletters.
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There are always businesses profiting from a situation. When I read “Candy Shop” my first thought was: Of course, Candy gives you a good feeling. With all those depressing news, you need something good as contrast. Your following explanation confirms this.
The other examples you found are impressive too. This shows, that you need to go on and even the worst things can be a blessing in disguise for the businesses who won’t give up.
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