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Competing for customers is tough enough in good times, but when existing and potential clients start pinching pennies in an era of stubborn inflation, it’s not only more difficult but increasingly important to win that battle every day.

One thing you’ll absolutely need is a deep and specific understanding of your customer base. If you don’t know its age ranges, gender distributions, financial statistics, and other pertinent information, you are starting from behind.

That information is critical to effective marketing, which is the foundation of keeping existing customers and attracting new ones. Your online assets (if you’re not on the web ,you’re now two steps back) has analytics functionality that simplifies demographic understanding, so learn to use it. If you aren’t online 1) you are not where the customers are but 2) you should still do market analytics by tracking sales—types of instruments and/or accessories sold, seasonal demand, customer requests, and so forth.

Market downturns require a review and update of your marketing plan. If you don’ have one or need some guidance to make it current, try “Five Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan” on the HubSpot blog. Free templates are included. (Not to beat this drum too loudly, but part of any serious marketing plan is online integration, not just for the sake of gathering demographics but because business today demands it. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website supported by compelling and informative content via social media channels will facilitate your organic and paid efforts in finding new clients.

Think about adding offers and incentives for new customers. Everybody loves introductory discounts and rewards such as one-time percent-off sales for new customers. The important thing is to follow up that first sale with dazzling service and ongoing value. It’s generally less expensive to keep the clients you have compared to acquiring new ones.

The best and most cost-effective marketing is still word of mouth. Start with your current clients. Make sure you are providing the best customer service possible. While people tend to express more verbally and online when things go bad, a lot of people also like to share their positive experiences and want family and friends to have the same great experiences they’ve had. (If your customers are throwing shade on your business, find out why and fix it! The customer isn’t always right, but the customer is always the customer.) You can also incentivize your current client base by offering discounts or other rewards when they provide referrals.

In your world, everybody is a potential customer, so go where they are and let them get to know you. Attend events and participate in local organizations. People like doing business with those who give back. If your business is more wholesale related, consider attending conferences and other industry events where potential business-to-business clients are also in attendance. Technology is wonderful but it’s no substitute for one-on-one interaction when available.

While competition is a challenge, it can also be a great motivator to keep you alert, aware, and always striving for improvement. By using these suggestions for your business, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new clients and helping your business reach its highest potential, which is not only financially rewarding but personally fulfilling!