Wyckoff, NJ (Gawkwire.com) Small businesses are starting out 2009 with the challenges of a weak economy that most pundits say will get worse before it gets better. Already working on shoestring budgets, small businesses have to tighten the straps even more and dig down deep to weather the storm.

One of the most important things business owners can do for themselves is to create a marketing plan that continues targeting new and prospective customers.
"While it is always important to have a good handle on operations, inventory and cash flow moving forward, sales and marketing efforts need special planning to succeed in these challenging times," said Marlene Bauer Pissott, President and founder of WebSwagger.com, an InGroup, Inc. small business solution.

A separate plan maps, by month, marketing action steps, while tracking the budget and project deadlines. Plans should address customer needs and wants as well as company goals and objectives. Here are some tips to consider while developing your marketing plan:

– Maintain regular contact with customers – make sure they know you are there for them and ready to serve their needs
– Reach out to old customers – remind them of your great service in the past and how you can serve them better
– Focus on product innovations – find new products or expanded services to sell to existing customers
– Build strategic alliances – enlist the help of others who share your goals and work ethic to grow your business
– Repeat what has worked well – reconsider marketing methods with a proven return on investment
– Allocate for competitive advantage – set aside an additional budget to go after customers that are not being effectively marketed to
– Utilize cost-effective solutions through Web and social media – get your name out there using free or inexpensive means of promotion on the Web

"Simple, easy to implement plans are best, especially for small businesses," says Pissott. "Having the plan on paper shows you everything you need to do to maintain and grow your business through 2009."

A free marketing plan template is available for download at http://www.webswagger.com/pirate_webswagger.html

Serving the needs of small businesses and professional service firms around the nation, WebSwagger.com offers unique, professional and affordable Web sites and print marketing materials.

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