How are you doing in this recession? The recovery seems spotty… some industries seem to be pulling out of it while others continue to suffer. But nobody has really reached the point where they were before the recession began. No doubt you have developed coping skills. Here are some additional tactics you might want to try.

  Each of your target customers responds and behaves differently during a recession – government clients, consumers, property owners. So there is certainly no one-size-fits-all list of countermeasures that fit everyone.

  Still, there are certain tactics and strategies that can make sense during a recession. For example, regardless of target customer base, the first thing many companies do is cut their marketing budget. In fact, this is so common, you could almost call it a “knee-jerk” reaction to recessionary symptoms.

  In fact, when you look at the big picture, what should you do to attract attention when everyone else is hunkering down? Naturally, the answer is “hunker up!”

  Hunkering up is to do anything you can think of to increase your visibility and get attention in a slow market, especially low cost things.

  Win a free driveway replacement! That’s your new flyer. Have a contest! Choose 10 or 12 crowded or busy foot-traffic locations in your area – grocery stores, in the malls, in builders’ or developers’ offices, wherever people congregate in your area. Take a shoebox, wrap it in the flyer, cut a slot in the top and leave a stack of half-sheet application forms for people to enter the contest.

  On the application forms, be sure to ask for an e-mail address so you can contact entrants to let them know who won, as well as invite them to enjoy a 10 percent discount on a driveway replacement later on. Be sure to save and ideally capture all entries by entering them into a database for later contact.

  This should cost less than $100 to set up, and a half-day’s work to re-do the winner’s driveway. Be sure to take before and after photos of the prize-winning job to post on your website and tell the story of the winning project.

  When you visit builders’ offices, maybe they don’t really have enough foot traffic to be a high-volume spot, but the visit gives you a good opportunity to chat with the owner and make sure he is getting his best deal on asphalt work for his projects.

  If you’re really bold, call it a “Recession Driveway Giveaway” and indicate that you understand times are hard, and that you are doing your part to help. It you’re beyond bold, hold the contest every month! Always remember, fortune favors the bold.

  If you are not as busy as you need to be, take a little of that down time to look up and down your list of peers and competitors. Maybe larger asphalt companies are thinking one of their recession survival tactics would be to outsource certain types of work to smaller organizations – like yours. Maybe smaller size contractors are hoping to hook on to a larger outfit – like yours – to help themselves through hard times. You really never know until you ask.

  Find the economic or real estate writer for your local newspaper. Take him or her for a cup of coffee and see if you can drum up interest in an article. Many real estate reporters are grasping for something to say to the depressed market.

  Even an article on the importance of driveway maintenance to preserve the value of your home could be a welcome project in these times.

  Invent a new product! Explore the decorative and dyed asphalt options, learn how to build an attractive, patterned asphalt patio. Many homeowners are feeling stuck right now; their homes have lost value and they can’t afford to sell, but they can still afford improvements.

  Think about bartering. Maybe you can exchange some asphalt work for a fresh new paint job and signage on your trucks and equipment. That counts as marketing.

  Tinker with your website. Put up some new photos, add a materials calculator or add a couple of new case studies or testimonials. Change gets noticed and tells the viewer you’re still alive and kicking. Try blogging on a popular blog that serves your community. Look for opportunities to become known on your local Craigslist site (http://www.craigslist.com). Post often under the services section – in labor/move, real estate, skilled trade and in the small biz ads.

  Consider another area that is attracting more attention, and that is green asphalt. Does that mean asphalt that is green in color? Or does it mean some kind of environmental technique? Well, what does it mean to you? Maybe it means both. There is such a thing as green dye for asphalt surfaces, and there are new environmentally beneficial products and techniques in the industry, such as warm mixes and geotech products. Google.com is a good place to find out more.

  You can take action to combat your personal recession.