loserDuring recessionary times, the first place people cut back is with their eating and drinking out dollars.

Sure, there is a progression. First, white table cloth restaurants are the first to feel the pinch, then casual, fast casual and then fast food.

After a scorching sales tear for some time, McDonald’s is now considering a $1.00 breakfast menu nationwide.

With unemployment at 10.2%, no one is safe.

Now it appears that people are buying less at the supermarket.

More are using shopping lists, feel prices are to high, hate the experience and nearly 8 out of 10 would flip brands on a deal! Loyalty be damned.

The restaurant and hospitality industry isn’t the only one suffering – every industry is suffering and only the smart, speedy and strong will survive. So, what can you do to succeed in these tough times?

Here are five marketing ideas to put on your shopping list that will help you survive and thrive in these tough times.

1. Do remarkable things that add value and drive word-of-mouth. Pretty simple statement, easy to understand, but so few do it. So, you do it. Positive word-of-mouth drives customer referrals, online reviews and media coverage while keeping your marketing costs low. Do something remarkably well.

Value offerings for specific reasons make sense (e.g., Anniversaries), but you need to watch it because deals are so easily copied and it’s difficult to move to higher prices when times get better.

You need to work on creating unique value priced offerings. People are re-thinking all of their purchases, so if you’re not truly giving value or a exceptional experience you better start. This requires packaging creativity and more customer focus.

List all the possible value-added services and amenities you offer and then look for ways to improve your customer’s experience for little or no cost to you.

If you’re in hospitality you could offer things such as free parking, free upgrades, late check-outs, drink certificates etc., and look to your marketing partenrs to help defray the costs.

Deliver value in creative unique packaged experiences.

If you’re average player in a today’s recessionary economy, you’re running backwards and you’re a loser.

2. Keep the Heat On. If you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind. Don’t just arbitrarily cut your advertising, but look for ways to more effectively spend or not spend it.  Get into social media marketing, improve  the search results of your web site, network.  Create stronger, more emotional appeals for your goods and services.

3. Strengthen Your Customer Relationships. Strengthen your sales force and put together win-back and retention strategies. Work to maximize the lifetime value of your key customers and integrate all of your communication messages into relevant targeted appeals.

4. Build a Centralized Segmented Marketing Database. The bedrock of all customer relationship management strategies is a unified, centralized and segmented marketing database. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to set up and manage a CRM system today.

5. Become a Direct Marketing Master. Direct marketing needs to take a greater role in your business plan whether it be direct sales, email, mail, phone etc., The most effective weapon is email marketing to current customers (but smartly segment them).

This is a good list to follow, but make sure you do not skip the first step!