By Rieva Lesonsky

Marketing your small business in an uncertain economy isn’t easy, and if you’re feeling fatigue with price-conscious consumers and lowered consumer spending, I can’t say I blame you. However, that doesn’t change the reality that consumers are still holding tight to their wallets–and, as a small business owner, you need to deal with reduced consumer spending.

With the economic recovery still rocky, even increased consumer confidence isn’t translating into more consumer spending anytime soon. In fact, a new study by Empathica reported in MediaPost found the majority of consumers plan to cut back on discretionary spending in the coming months.

Why is consumer spending so weak? Although one-third of consumers believe their financial situation will get better in the future, right now 60 percent say it’s worse than it was six months ago, and almost a third say it’s the same.

What do these attitudes mean for small business owners? Empathica reports that cutting prices and offering discounts may be enough to attract new customers, but they won’t necessarily work to keep them coming back. Beyond low prices or one-time deals, Empathica says customers are looking for quality and great customer service.

These demands will be especially important when the economy does pick up and customers feel more confident about spending. How can you keep customers buying from you?

Reward loyalty. Loyalty programs are a great way to make customers feel special and also feel like they’re getting something extra.

Provide a personal touch. Showing recognition to your regular customers goes a long way. Many consumers want to patronize local businesses that they feel offer a more personal touch.

Survey your customers. Keep customer service standards high by constantly checking in with customers about how you’re doing. This could be anything from chatting with diners in your restaurant to posting a quick survey question on your business’s Facebook page or doing an online survey.

Cultivate referrals. Referrals from satisfied, regular customers are a great way to get new business without having to resort to discounts and price-cutting. Set up a system for requesting and following up on referrals.

Even if the economic recovery continues its rocky trajectory, these tips will put you on the path to keeping customers satisfied and shopping with your small business.

Follow @Rieva
Follow @SmBizDaily