Is your business struggling a bit in a rocky economy? It’s the perfect time to strengthen your brand.

Recessions are actually the ideal time for cash-strapped businesses to get their name out there. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. 

Competition for consumer dollars is at an all-time high. Businesses are pulling out all the stops with discounts, new items and loyalty rewards to make lasting impressions. It’s sink or swim for many big and small companies. 

How does stagflation and inflation affect businesses? 

two ladies working with a laptop

First, let’s define inflation and stagflation:

Inflation is an increase in the price of goods, services and the overall cost of living over time. Put simply, it means less buying power.

Stagflation is a combination of high inflation and slow economic growth. The result is a “stagnant” economy.

Inflation and stagflation affect businesses in much the same way as individuals and families. When income doesn’t keep up with rising expenses, the squeeze is on. 

Customer spending, or the lack of it, has a huge impact on businesses during inflationary times. Individuals and families tend to change their spending habits when their paychecks don’t stretch as far as they used to. When they cut back on entertainment, dining and other items, businesses take a hit. 

15 quick ways to strengthen your brand during rising inflation

Marketing in an uncertain economy takes creativity and a budget-friendly plan. Yes, it also takes money, but there are ways to achieve your goals and strengthen your brand while keeping costs at a minimum. 

1. Social media. Frequent social media posts and customer emails can annoy the very customers you’re trying to reach. Be smart. Pace yourself. In most cases, it’s best to send customer emails less than three times per week.  

It’s OK to post daily on social media but make sure the content is interesting and relevant. Your goal should be to provide solutions for your audience. Use videos for how-tos and offer answers to questions your customers routinely ask. Discounts and sales announcements are always welcome posts. 

Paid social media ads can give your brand a healthy boost but only if your budget allows it. Track results to ensure you’re not throwing money down the drain.  

Bonus tip: Use casual language, not industry jargon, to engage your audience on all social media channels.  

2. Create a Google My Business account. It costs nothing to create a Google Business Profile that will appear on Google Maps and in the right-side Knowledge Panel of a Google search. It can show your business name, address, hours of operation and phone number. It also can display images of products you sell, customer reviews, an “about” section and more.  

One of the top reasons to have one? It lends credibility to your business. 

Bonus tip: Optimize your Google Business Profile by verifying your ownership through your Google My Business account. This will help you show up higher on the page in a search. 

3. Share your happy reviews. Gather positive feedback from social media sites or customer service surveys to let potential clients know what a great job you do. Personally contact loyal customers to solicit comments about what they love about your company, products and services.  

Then use all that good stuff in quotes on your website, in social media posts and blogs. Studies show that 93 percent of customers read online reviews before making purchases. No other form of marketing tool draws more traffic to your website or front door than genuine referrals from satisfied customers.  

4. Show your impressive partnerships. Place logos or badges on your website of notable or popular organizations and businesses you partner with or serve. It’s a smart way to gain the trust of customers and potential clients. If a big-name company or agency trusts your business, others will, too. 

5. Don’t skimp on great content. About 96 percent of marketing professionals say content marketing is effective for their brand. High-quality, relevant content on your website, in blogs and in other forms of communication will get Google’s attention. If you create amazing content — free of grammar and punctuation errors — Google often will award you with a higher page ranking. That transforms into more traffic, which can mean higher profits as your strengthen your brand.   

6. Turn your team into brand ambassadors. Give your staff customized apparel such as tees or polo shirts printed with your logo to show employee appreciation. They will wear the shirts to work, the gym, while running errands or at community events. Those company shirts will expose your name and logo more often and longer than any other advertising tool.  

woman wearing a customized T-shirt for a law firm outside

7. Join a local civic organization. Getting involved in your community is a great way to boost your brand image. Membership typically involves a small, annual fee and volunteerism to support good causes.  

Explain your membership to all employees — from top officials to the newest hires — and ask for volunteers to serve on a rotating basis. Post photos on social media of the volunteers in action. 

8. Host contests and giveaways on social media. This is a fantastic way to reach and engage with all types of customers. About one-third of contest entrants will voluntarily sign up for company emails for a chance to win prizes in your contests. This is an amazing benefit when working to strengthen your brand! Building your email list is an inexpensive way to expand your audience. 

9. Sponsor local school tournaments, a Little League team or an academic program. It doesn’t cost a lot to sponsor a youth program and the exposure can last for months. Officials often thank sponsors by printing their names on student uniforms, banners, and in newsletters and social media posts.  

10. Establish an annual charitable drive to benefit a local agency. Organizing a yearly event within your company to support a good cause can enhance your public image and your team’s morale. Your employees will share in the pride of giving back to your community by organizing events such as clothing drives or food pantry collections. 

11. Participate in a local parade or county fair. Helping local residents celebrate special events will introduce your brand in a positive way. Have employees wear shirts or hats with your logo when handing out swag or treats along a parade route or manning a vendor booth. 

12. Join your local chamber of commerce. Becoming an official part of the community starts by applying for membership in the chamber of commerce. Yes, there are banquets to attend, fees to pay and volunteer work. But the benefits make it a worthwhile investment: networking opportunities, new business contacts, customer referrals, company credibility and name exposure. 

13. Keep popular giveaway items in your lobby or reception area. Custom pens, keychains and chip clips with your logo often cost less than a $1 each but are powerful marketing tools. Practical giveaway items are quickly grabbed by visitors and used often. You’ll gain tremendous exposure for your company and make a great impression on customers and job candidates. 

custom chip clips on a table

14. Create a blog and post regularly. A company blog is the best place to answer your customers’ questions and give solutions to their problems. This makes you an authority and the expert they will turn to when they need your products and services.  

A business blog that includes keyword optimization can showcase your brand, increase your online traffic and sales, and help you earn valuable backlinks. 

15. Give the best customer service. We’ve all had a nasty customer service experience at one time or another. The result? We quit shopping at those businesses. The facts don’t lie: 73 percent of consumers believe customer experience is an important factor in their buying decisions. 

Companies must make it a priority to place knowledgeable employees with pleasant personalities in customer service positions. It’s not easy today with employee shortages everywhere, but it is an important step to strengthen your brand. A wave of bad customer reviews can be very harmful and long-lasting.  

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Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.

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