Things are tough out there. Less spending in business and consumer markets mean more competition for the money that is being spent. Now is not the time to panic. Instead, it’s a great opportunity to make the necessary improvements in order to make a positive impact on your business. First, become more visible to your market so you can weather the storm and second, position yourself for the recovery. The time and energy you spend now will not only help you survive but will give you the opportunity to thrive when things are back on track.

Step 1 – Assess your situation

During times of abundance, we sometimes overlook our deficiencies and take our strengths for granted. For long-term prosperity, focus on your core strengths that produce the greatest return. Reducing an overly broad range of products and services will allow you to focus on your most profitable offerings and will also lead to more effective positioning and differentiation from your competitors.

Step 2 – Understand your audience

Today’s consumer is unique. They have less time, focus and money yet continue to have high expectations. It’s crucial that you understand your target audience so you can identify how to spend your marketing dollars more efficiently and effectively. Have their purchasing habits and preferences recently changed? Are they still focused on quality or have they become value-seeking customers? When you uncover the answers to these types of questions, you can begin to formulate new, more relevant ways to present your overall value to them.

Step 3 – Evaluate your marketing efforts and refine your message

Now that you’ve assessed your internal situation and have a better understanding of your audience, it’s time to reach out to them in order to make a connection–this means marketing. Focus on the part of your marketing mix that has been the most effective. Whether this is digital media or print media, the most important goal is to make an authentic connection with your audience. Also, it’s important to be customer-centric. Use your knowledge about your customer to present your value in relevant ways. Without pandering to the economic uncertainty, communicate that you care, understand and are there to help them.

Now is not the time to wait for customers to find you, rather it’s time to be proactive and reach out to them. You may not have the budget for expansive marketing initiatives, but there are many other options that are cost-effective.