If you own a small business, you don’t need telling twice: it’s a cut-throat world out there. You’re not the only company offering similar services or products to a limited base of customers, and the most important thing you need to know is to get your name out there.

And even then it’s not as simple as that. Not only do you have to get your name out in the market, but you’ve also got to work hard to have that good name associated with great value, brilliant products and sparkling customer service. Get any of these wrong, and your competitors will certainly make hay at your expense.

While most businesses are looking to trim as much of their costs and expenses as possible, all too many of them are making the critical mistake of stunting their growth by severing their online advertising or marketing campaigns.

Too many people feel that online advertising and marketing just doesn’t work for them when times get tough, and cut their advertising budgets. Studies have shown time and again that this is a fatal mistake in the world of business, where reputation is everything. Even the world’s biggest businesses know that a global brand is no defence – disrupt your online marketing campaign, and the tough times will get even tougher.

The good news is that in difficult times, you can be sure that your competitors are feeling exactly the same way, and have probably already slashed their online marketing budgets. This means that by being brave and retaining a strong online presence you can take advantage. If other companies get nervous and cut back, you’re ready to step in and the potential leverage is enormous. It’s no market for the faint-hearted, but business is never without risk.

Before you can just jump into the fray and start outspending all of your competitors, you have to have a solid and reliable online marketing plan in place. The first thing you need to do is really and truly analyse your market and look for exactly what they want.

Too many companies try to sell their customers on a solution they think is perfect, when you really need to be flexible to their needs. Don’t be rigid – it’s their money and you need to show willingness to bend over backwards to earn repeat business.

Even though most of your competition will be running for the hills and slashing their marketing and advertising budgets, you will still find that the smart and savvy amongst them are digging in just as you are.

Be creative. Promotion has many guises, and be prepared to use them all. Make promotion fun and engaging and you’ll stand out from the crowd. Marketing and advertising works, and even in tough times it’ll work for you.