Friday, August 21, 2009

"I can't afford to advertise during a recession!"

So-called business guru Peter Drucker once said, "Only two things make business money - marketing and innovation. Everything else is an expense."

Having a great and innovative product or service and not marketing it is like owning a sports car and never putting gas in it. You need to fill the tank on a regular basic or you won't get very far.

During down times, marketing is often the first budget slashed. This can actually cause more harm than the recession alone. If your marketing efforts were bringing in a certain level of sales, and those numbers began to drop as the economy slowed, killing your advertising will certainly take them unnecessarily lower. The customers are still out there - and unless you have a truly boutique product, they are still buying – just at a reduced rate.

My advice to clients during a slump is that we sit down and evaluate what we're doing and what we've done in the past. We identify the initiatives that produced the most bang for the buck, and adjust the budget and strategy to focus on repeating those results. If targeted direct mail was a great, inexpensive way of reaching a specific target segment – we repeat it. If banner ads or print placement in a specific publication did the job, then we shift in that direction.

Studies show that companies that don't succumb to the knee-jerk slashing of their advertising budgets during these times actually tend to see growth – which only makes sense to me. Think about it. If the norm is to reduce or eliminate advertising expenses during a recession, the playing field is empty. There are fewer voices competing for the customer's eyes and ears, and new customers can likely be had without having to work quite so hard to beat out your competition.

Don't get me wrong, the problems inherent with a financial slow down can't be ignored, and I'm not suggesting that you proceed, business-as-usual through these tough times. I'm simply saying that with a bit of thought, and some focused planning and execution, your marketing could turn a bust into a boom.

Happy marketing - j

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