By Stuart Ayling
More often than not, when times get tough marketing gets the bullet. In some cases where there has been an incorrect allocation of resources within a company this may be justified. But in most cases it is a mistake. Sometimes a very costly one!
Marketing, when done properly, will attract customers to your business and convert their interest into paid sales – money in the till.
When the economy is slow many managers think, “Let’s reduce expenses” and look for those expense items that seem to be irrelevant to achieving immediate sales. Marketing activities such as advertising, public relations, lead generation, research and sales incentives may be targeted.
However, history has shown that it is the companies who continue with aggressive, yet relevant, marketing during the slow times that are first to emerge when the economic tide turns. The continued marketing efforts maintain a premium position in the mind of their customers.
When their customers are ready to buy whom will they think of? The company they have heard from regularly and know about, or the company they dealt with many months ago and haven’t heard from since (Are they are still in business? The customer wonders).
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t look for more economical marketing methods to squeeze as much value as possible out of scarce company resources. Quite the opposite! It is during slow economic times that you can often get the best advertising rates, the lowest prices for production, and the most attractive partnership deals. As other companies curtail their spending, suppliers and media owners are desperate to fill capacity. They are more willing than ever to secure regular customers.
When you consider your marketing options, seek lower cost (and more efficient) activities such as:
- Look closely at cost per thousand for alternative media vehicles and carefully choose your target audience. Try to minimise waste.
- Commit to a longer advertising campaign to lock-in a very low rate, and look for value-added opportunities for editorial, features or promotions that enhance your standing as a preferred advertiser.
- Fine tune your media ‘flights’ to ensure you are reaching high worth customers at the most effective times. Cancel the fringe times.
- Use smaller advertisements, but run them more frequently.
- Incentivise your sales team to concentrate on new business.
- Look for cost effective public relations exercises that will keep your product name in front of prospects. Work with partners in a win-win scenario.
- Join forces with a business selling complementary products and produce an offer to be sent to each others customers.
- Check with publishers for ‘remnant’ space, and get on their list for last minute cancellations. Let them know you are interested. Have some standard advertising material prepared to use at short notice.
- Shop around for production quotes. Look outside your usual suppliers.
- Consider email marketing to maintain communication with customers. It’s low cost and flexible.
- Do you have a web site?
– How can you use it to generate leads more cost effectively?
– Can you use it for communication with customers, product releases, newsletters etc?
- Approach potential partners that you thought were previously unattainable. Their approach may be more flexible now.
- Target customers of the opposition. Let them know you are still going strong and want their business.
Maintain your market presence during the slow times and you will be on top of the ‘wave’ when the market picks up. The multiplier effect of this situation can be quite astounding, ensuring your company has a real head start in the strengthening economy.
Stuart Ayling runs Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. For additional marketing resources, including Stuart’s popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at www.marketingnous.com.au