“Yesterday it was chickens; today it is feathers,” the owner of a local oilfield supply company said to me yesterday.
The barrel is at $49, Halliburton has stacked a few rigs, and all of a sudden you went from celebrating your profits to having nightmares about pawning your wedding ring and sitting around a fire under a deserted oil rig telling stories to your grandkids about how the oil business was one of the largest money makers of all time. Ok, so it’s not really that bad, but we all tighten the finances during times like this.
Keep this word in mind: Perspective. Not so much yours, but everyone else’s. The appearance of success and quality in an industry that has temporarily slowed down can affect your client’s decisions. Work with what you already have: your sales and marketing staff might be overloaded or non-existent, but your office staff might have some extra time to do some simple and effective marketing work.
Where profits go, advertisement sales follow, and small businesses are tightening their spending due to the oil prices, but marketing does pay. So here are a few ways to help your brand survive the economic situation. Here’s how to create some free- to low-cost marketing strategies for your company.
Get a Website. Avg. Cost- $0.00 to $20 a year.
If you don’t have one, you should. Directory services are predominantly online now and searchers use smartphones to find services. Creating a website can be as simple as drawing up a basic landing page with your contact information using a free or low-cost site-design service like Weebly or Tumblr. Make sure you list your company in the local business listings on Yahoo, Google, Yelp, Manta and Bing.
Business Cards. Cost-$0.00 to $40.00
I can’t tell you how many people in the oilfields pull out a napkin to write down a name or number. If you want cheap, easy branding, make sure every one of your employees has a business card. Your drivers, office people, and even the yard crew can spread your brand and information for you. Vistaprint will even print you free business cards if you let them advertise their website in small text at the bottom of your card. Make sure you use a large font for the company name and logo. Also provide your employee’s name and position, your website address and a central phone number.
Car Magnets. Cost ~$20
These are cheap, can be put on and taken off quickly and doesn’t damage my car at all. Do you have employees that commute to work? Ask if they will put a car magnet on their vehicle with the company name and number on it. If it brings in business, reward them. Again, Vistaprint will do this cheap.
Craigslist and Local Nickel Ads. Cost-$0 – $5.00 per month
Sounds stupid, but what do you think is sitting in a basket as you walk into the local diner or convenient store? Nickel ads newspaper. Craigslist has a services section online. Takes a few minutes to put your ad in, but you never know.
Trade Advertisement. Cost -$0
I’ve used this in the past, and it does work. Trading is essentially free because it benefits both parties. Find a company that you purchase from or a company that isn’t a direct competitor but that has the same target market as yours. Make a call and ask them if they would be interested in advertising your company on their website in trade for you placing their advertisement on yours. This can even work on business cards or printed flyers.
Lunch. Cost – $5-150
Have a customer that you haven’t seen for a while? Have an employee run a box of donuts or a pizza over to this customer with a flyer. Keeping your name in front of people is really hard, but can be critical when your industry is slow. Another idea is hosting a roadside Barbecue. Put up a sign about 200 feet down the road in both directions of your location that says “Free BBQ for oilfield workers ahead” and be ready to talk about your business. Have printed information ready. Face-to-face interactions generate new business. You’ll at least have a few people mentioning your company name.
Online Advertisements. Cost- Varied.
Advertisement spaces in magazines and online oil communities like Oilman Magazine, Oilpro, and others are like hotel rooms. They need to be filled to stay around. Most of these companies understand that small businesses are tight on funds and are willing to negotiate prices and put together packages during a recession that would cost more when business is booming. Call and set your marketing budget and see if they will build an introductory package for you. Online ad formats reach out to far more eyes than anything else I’ve mentioned and are worth looking into.
I’m located here in the Eagle Ford Shale area in Texas and I’m always willing to stop by your place of business or take your phone call. Will I drop off my card and brochure before I leave? Of course. Let’s help each other get our names and services out in these tough times. It can only benefit us when things pick up.
Remember, keep a long-term perspective. If you built a business, you can do this.