Musings on

Leadership

By July 15, 2008

When the Economy Slumps, Marketing Will Keep Your Business Thriving

This morning on NPR, I heard Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernacke warn us that the U.S. economy faces “numerous difficulties.” For most of us, this isn’t news. People are being increasingly careful where they spend their dollars. As a business owner or a marketing professional, it’s important to remember that the ups and downs of the economy are cyclical.

Economic downturns have happened before and they will happen again. During these times, smart businesses adjust their marketing strategies to make sure they will thrive during these slumps. This is crucial to the long-term success of your company because you do not want to allow external circumstances to determine your future. The key is to be strategic, savvy, and streamlined in your marketing campaigns.

For a well-positioned company, an economic recession should not lead to marketing cutbacks. Unfortunately, I see many businesses making this mistake – marketing is one of the first areas that gets cut from their budget. Let me explain why this well-intentioned decision will hurt your company’s well being.

Any time you go into a fearful reactive mode, you are actually moving backwards. Marketing is what will make your company recession proof. Since a lot of your competitors will be cutting back, this is your time to really differentiate your business and strengthen your competitive advantage. Think of this an opportunity for your company – it’s actually a great time to get aggressive with your marketing…as long as you are strategic.

Here are tips to help you adjust your marketing in a tough economy:

1) Know what drives your customer in this economy. More than ever, you must understand what drives your target audience and how they are reacting to the current economy. Both consumers and businesses will take more time to make a purchasing decision and they will most likely be a hard negotiator at the point of sale. Buyers are more willing to hold off on making a purchase, and they will rely on the brands that they know well. Therefore, talk to your current customers about their challenges and what they need from you to help them.

2) Keep a close eye on your sales – both actual and projected. This is a time for careful monitoring and adjusting. Watch your incoming company sales and keep an eye on your project pipeline/future income. If you compare this to past data, you will know what is happening before it actually occurs and you can intensify your marketing efforts to compensate for potential slowdowns. Now more than ever, you want to make sure that you are marketing forward to ensure your pipeline stays full in the coming months.

3) Differentiate yourself and reinforce your brand.
When we are in a time when fewer people are buying, competition becomes fierce. Make sure your target audience understands why you are different from your competitors. Let them know why your brand is the best. Treat your best customers with extra TLC because you want them to weather the economic downturn with you. This is a great time to give your VIPs extra value and incentives.

4) Don’t focus on expansion right now; instead focus on what is profitable. Now is not the best time to launch a brand new venture. For example, if you are a chocolate bar company, it’s not a good economy for you to try out a donut line. You don’t want to risk a fall by jumping too far away from your tried-and-true core areas. Instead, take a look at the services and products that are most profitable for your company and vigorously promote these.

5) Focus on relationships and value. Keep marketing your company’s value to your prospects and customers. Because people are spending less, they want the purchases they DO make to be of great value to them. Emphasize reliability, durability, quality, and performance in your promotions. Tell your customers how much you appreciate their business.

6) Beef up your lead-generating marketing. Focus your marketing dollars on efforts that generate immediate business and quality leads. Remember, your competitors are pulling back, so this is a great time to reel in new customers who are looking for what your company offers. You have an opportunity to really stand out in your industry. Be sure to set up tracking systems so you can effectively monitor the results.

Remember, a recession is not the time to get gloomy. Instead it is an opportunity for smart business owners to differentiate their company. In a slowing economy, it is time to maintain or even increase your marketing budget. Stay laser focused on the activities that make your phone ring now and in the coming months.

Need help with your marketing? Kinesis excels at design and marketing. Give us a call at 503-922-2289 for a free initial consultation. And of course, you can always visit our Kinesis website to see our portfolio.

ABOUT Wendy Maynard

Wendy Maynard is the co-founder and former Strategic Director of Kinesis, an award-winning marketing firm and business consultancy. She has over two decades of experience as a marketing strategist, business consultant, and executive coach.

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