The economy is still struggling to recover, and even if your business hasn't experienced a decline, your clients certainly have. As we enter the fourth quarter of the year, it's time to take a look at our marketing plans and decide what stays and what goes.

Why spend money marketing in a down economy? Because maintaining or even increasing your marketing activities gives your business an advantage over those scaling back.

Before you begin, it's important to evaluate where you are. Assess what worked, and what didn't. Focus on results -- leads, sales, inquiries, rather than on the activity itself and use this as your measuring stick.

Next, think about where you want to go. Identify opportunities and set quantifiable marketing objectives, such as an increase in the number of phone calls, a delta in your average order value, etc.

Then, identify the right mix of inbound marketing activities and attract well-qualified prospects. Consider these:

  • Your website. To thrive, regularly add new content and useful information. Remember, your website is the key component when working with referral partners.
  • Pay-per-click marketing. The only way to guarantee traffic from Google is to buy it. Use as many keywords as possible, and drive traffic to a landing page, rather than your homepage. Use inquiries as your success metric -- not clicks.
  • Create a YouTube channel. Film short videos of your store, locations, product displays. Ask key associates to do video reviews of your service offering.

These are just a few of the many, low-cost, or no-cost inbound marketing ideas you can implement today to give your business what it needs to succeed.

What's your favorite inbound marketing technique?