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Now Is Not The Time To Cut Back On Your Marketing

by Kay Ross

Yes, I know, it's tempting to cut back on your marketing during "hard times". Many business owners see marketing as a discretionary expense rather than an investment in their business, so marketing tends to be one of the first things to get cut from the budget. But that's short-term, fear-based thinking. Not smart.

Here's why cutting back on your marketing during an economic downturn could be false economy:

  • During a downturn, your potential clients may well be more careful about their spending, but they do still need to buy products and services. So you need to work even smarter to market your company and show people why your products and services offer excellent value and results.
  • If you don't keep your message in front of people consistently, they'll quickly forget about you and your product or service.
  • If you stop being visible in the marketplace, people might assume that business is not going well for you – that's not a perception you want to encourage.
  • It will be much harder to build up the momentum from scratch once business starts to pick up again (and it will!). 
  • Your marketing should not be aimed only at your prospective customers; you need to communicate all-year-round with your existing and past customers, your staff, your suppliers, your volunteers, the media, your shareholders, industry analysts, government bureaucrats, legislators, your business allies etc. 
  • Opportunities don't disappear during a downturn, so you have to be ready to respond quickly whenever an opportunity comes knocking. 
  • Marketing isn't just about advertising; it's about EVERYTHING you do that creates perceptions, motivations and expectations in all your stakeholders (not just your prospective customers). And you have to manage that all the time, 365 days a year, not just during the boom times.

So you need to be proactive to manage every "touch point", keep in touch with your stakeholders, and take advantage of low-cost marketing opportunities. Here are some marketing activities that won't cost you a lot of money:

  • The media are always on the lookout for interesting editorial stories, so send out a media release and propose an interview.
  • Take some time to review all your "touch points" – the online and real-world places/situations where people come into contact with your business. Make sure these touch points are as user-friendly as possible (by that, I mean they make it as easy as possible for people to BUY); they consistently convey a positive image of your company and your products/services, and they're consistent with your brand's personality.
  • Train your staff about marketing (particularly selling, customer service and copywriting).
  • Ask your clients for feedback about what they want and what you could be doing better.
  • Ask your clients for referrals and testimonials.
  • Send hand-written thank you notes to your clients.
  • Review all your marketing communications material and re-write it to ensure it focuses on the client (not you); it communicates a clear, compelling message about the results/benefits of your product or service, and it tells the reader what to do (i.e. how to buy).
  • Re-connect with your past clients.
  • Write educational articles about your industry and submit them to article-marketing sites.
  • Do public speaking engagements. 
  • Advertise more! Advertising prices are dropping and your competitors might be advertising less, so you'll get more "bang for your buck".
  • Network – face-to-face or online.
  • Send a regular e-newsletter to your stakeholders.
  • Start a blog.
  • Present a free, informative teleseminar.
  • Establish alliances with complementary companies that serve your current and prospective clients.
  • Post an educational, entertaining video on YouTube.
  • Devise innovative, high-value packages/combinations of your products/services.
  • In all your marketing material, be upfront about your green credentials – where are your products made; how are they made; what are you doing to offset your carbon footprint…?

Finally, here's an inspiring quote from author Marianne Williamson: "Love is the source of your good, and the source of your abundance. As you develop more and more fully your capacity to love, then miracles will occur naturally in your life…regardless of what's happening in the economy! Whatever doors might close to us, God will open new ones...as long as our minds are willing and our hearts are open."

Lesson: Business doesn't stop during a downturn; neither should your marketing.

Action steps: Start implementing some of these suggestions. Today.

© Kay Ross

PS This is the main article in my March 2009 e-newsletter to subscribers. If you'd like to receive more articles like this one in future, please sign up for my e-newsletter (it's free) by going to the opt-in box in the top right-hand corner of this page.

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Kay Ross is a Hong Kong-based marketing consultant & coach, editor and copywriter. She devises creative marketing strategies and crafts compelling English-language marketing communications messages that translate into bottom-line results for her clients. To learn more, visit www.kayross.com.

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Sharing tips at the "Making the Most of the Media" seminar
September 18, 2006