Freelance Marketing Strategies during Economic Downturns

October 3, 2008 by  

These are tough times and no matter where you live or what your occupation is you will most likely find yourself at some time or another in an economic downturn. As a freelancer your livelihood can be severely affected by businesses decreasing their advertising and marketing budgets to reduce their operational expenses balancing out their bottom-line.

Tightening the purse strings is the classic stance companies take during a financial slump and although the repercussions are felt throughout all industries how are we as freelancers supposed to prepare and weather the storm? How long will all this last? These are both great questions I have asked myself over the years and I will let you know what has worked.

Managing your way through tough times by putting a little percentage of your earnings away each pay cheque and cutting back on expenses can only get you so far in these economic times of uncertainty, so besides the use of tried tested and true “saving for a rainy day” methods you also need to change your marketing strategy and cater to your clients both current and prospective by showing them that you can save them some money by hiring you.

Prove Your Worth

Because I worked in the pizza industry for many years I will use it as an example of how you can approach your current and existing clients. Say for instance you are hired by a pizzeria that mail out flyers four times a year with every season autumn, winter, spring and summer. This is the only marketing and advertising that they do and it has worked for them for over ten years.

Their print material is a standard double sided two fold full colour brochure and the total cost to print and send it out every quarter (every 3 months) comes just under the $40 000 budget they set aside annually. How are you to seamlessly save them money and provide the same benefits of their marketing and advertising campaigns?

Here Are the Numbers

Now we are going to do a little math, I have used round numbers to make it easier to understand. The $40 000 yearly budget is for 4 ad campaigns which works out to $10 000 quarterly. It cost $1000 to design, $6000 to print and $3000 to deliver the flyers to every mailbox in town.

This is what you should do

Create a website that provides all the pizzeria’s basic information like the history of the business, contact info (blah blah blah) but most importantly the details of their menu. Of course you can get fancier but the menu is the most important part of the formula, essentially you are going to remove it from their print advertisements making their flyer smaller which costs less.

So let’s say that you have built the website and you cut the flyer in half by removing all the menu items only keeping the seasonal specials letting the readers know that the full menu is on the website of course. The flyer will now be significantly less to produce, we’ll say a third (it will be cheaper than that) so the $6000 it use to cost to print will now only be $4020 that is a savings $1980 which will translate to $7920 over the course of the year or 20%.

Now you also have to factor in that the website hasn’t been planed or paid for so you will need to take another $2000 away which would make the final total of savings come out to $5920.

Like I said the numbers I used are rounded and I know for a fact that the price to print would be cut closer in half rather than in a third but I wanted to show that it doesn’t take much to trim the fat. You can also play with two colours instead of four and try different kinds of paper to get your print costs even lower.

This is just a basic explanation. I never went into how much work is actually involved into making up a marketing plan like this; it is not easy and will only get better the more you use it. It can also be adapted to many other industries and businesses that have marketing budgets and do print advertisements annually.

Pick an industry and do your research, find out how much it would cost to put together a marketing package like this. Hit all the businesses in that industry with your numbers, clients understand numbers and it is your confidence and ability to save them money that will get you work in an economic downturn.


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