Marketing In An Economic Downturn
<p>I have invested many hours working with, and talking to, clients and
potential clients who are struggling to market in our current economy.
The most common theme during these interactions is one of
reduction/elimination of investments in marketing activities whilst
waiting out the storm: "Business is bad right now so I am not going to
advertise until business picks back up." This type of thinking is akin to
not buying gasoline because the price is too high and continuing to drive
anyway. Eventually, high price or not, the car is going to run out of gas
and leave the driver stranded.</p><p>My reaction to a such a decision is
"Might as well shutter the place now, rather than witness a slow bleed to
death, because your business is as good as dead anyway!" Harsh, but true.
No one wants to be told that; no one wants to acknowledge this reality.
The more prudent reaction to our economic situation is to do the opposite
of what seems logical and MARKET NOW MORE THAN EVER!</p><p>"When times
are good, you should advertise; when time are bad, you MUST advertise!"
("Making a Recession Work For You", American Business Media). So true. It
is a proven fact that businesses who continue to market during economic
downturns emerge stronger and healthier than if they did not. Why?
Because consumers with no money don't plan on having no money forever.
They realize that they will also emerge at the other end of a downturn.
They make notes along the way of which products they will buy when they
once again have money, and which companies that offer such products they
will patronize when they do have money. Or, consumers that have less
money than usual are more selective as to which companies they patronize,
and gravitate to the ones marketed to them.</p><p>The obvious bottom
line: They won't buy from companies they have never heard about! The WILL
buy from ones they DO know about!</p><p>Another quote from the American
Business Media Corporation: "If a company fails to maintain its share of
mind during an economic downturn, current and future sales are
jeopardized. Maintaining share of mind costs MUCH LESS (emphasis added)
than rebuilding it later on ."</p><p>Sound business advise.</p><p>The
main issue I see as to why businesses feel they cannot market during an
economic downturn is due to what I call "Freeway Mentality". Why is the
freeway always jammed at rush hour? Because most people have been taught
that the freeway is the ONLY way to get to their destination. Is that
true? No! Other routes are available. People just have not researched new
avenues of travel. So, they just jump on the freeway and cuss about the
traffic.</p><p>Most business owners have been taught that there are only
a few ways in which to advertise: newspaper, TV, radio. All can be very
expensive and very limiting in their effect. So when marketing funds dry
up, and these are seemingly the only methods of advertising available,
the business owner feels they can no longer advertise.</p><p>So, what if
a company does not have resources to advertise and market during an
economic downturn? Well, first it is time to examine WHY this is so. Pure
budgeting issues might be responsible for this. But sales drive budgets.
Lack of sales reduce budgets. So the answer is to either move funds from
other parts of the budget into the marketing section, or to sell more to
add more to the marketing budget.</p><p>If the budget is truly zero, then
marketing activities that cost zero dollars need to be employed: Craigs
List, Ebay, in-store referral programs, blogs, website promotion, press
releases, networking groups, etc. The point is that there are other
routes to take to get to the sales destination. Once sales recover, other
more familiar marketing vehicles can be employed.</p><p>Another point to
make is this: An economic downturn does not mean zero sales for all
businesses, it only means less dollars are in the marketplace. Nothing
precludes that all businesses are required to have less sales. A business
owner who decides to NOT have less sales can maintain or even GROW sales
during a downturn! However, natural selection tends to work when less
dollars are in the marketplace. The job of the business owner is to not
just keep from being selected out of the market, but to grow his
business! This is done by attracting the limited available dollars.
Marketing and advertising is how this is done.</p><p>Michael O'Brien is a
sales and marketing professional with 25 years experience in the
professional beauty industry as well as the magazine, ad services, and
direct sales industries. He lives and works in Redding, CA and Phoenix,
AZ with his beautiful wife Grace and six children."Great things are
accomplished by small means" is his professional philosophy. <a