In a soft economy, small businesses are often the first to suffer. Plagued by a lack of resources, small business owners may feel financially stifled. However, a recession or soft economy can actually be used in your favor – if you are smart and savvy enough to know how and where to market yourself. Indeed, the well-informed small business owner can see their operation flourish during these tough times, while watching their competitors swiftly fall behind. Here are some tips on where to market your small business in a down economy. • Your Existing Customers – In a soft economy, it still costs more to attract a new customer than to retain an old one. Make sure you are tapping into your existing customer base, as they have already indicated their interest in your business! Send them coupons, mailers, and incentives, as they are still your most powerful business cornerstone. • Flea Markets and Consignment Shops – During a recession, second hand operations like flea markets and thrift shops actually see a huge spike in business. Since flea markets are public forums, they are a great place to hand out flyers promoting your company’s latest discount or special. Consignment shops, on the other hand, may be a trickier forum in which to promote your small business. Consult the owner of a few different second hand shops and see if they would be interested in conducting a cross promotion. You will be reaching a very captive audience. • Your Neighbor’s Customers – Teaming up with a synergistic business is a powerful way to increase your marketing efforts without spending a dime. For example, if you are a wedding florist, partner with your city’s wedding stationer. You both share the same target audience, yet are not competitors with each other’s business model. You can have brochures printed to leave in each other’s stores, and you could even split the cost of a mailing campaign or wedding show booth. • Your Website and E-Mail –If your small business has not tried e-mail marketing, now is definitely the time. It is cheap, easy, and allows for you to reach a large group of people for absolutely no cost at all. You can also swap your e-mail list with another company, which allows you to reach a much larger audience. Thinking outside the box is the only way to thrive during a recession. Take advantage of all the resources around you to put your business in front of spending customers.