Tough times? Don't cut the marketing!

Faced with a need to cut operating costs when entering a period of recession, marketing is seen as an easy option for those who focus only on the immediate balance sheet.

But, before you wield the axe, stop and consider the implications.

Marketing is probably more important than ever when customers are scarce and budgets are tight.

After all, it is PR and marketing that results in something that all businesses need... customer demand. Research shows that awareness of your product or service can decline as much as 50% in a month when you fall silent. Rebuilding that profile may cost you a great deal more at a later date.

It may be brave to swim against the tide, to shun the obvious cuts. But it can pay huge dividends in the long run.

To maintain, or even increase, your spend on PR and marketing gives your business an opportunity to stand above the competition and increase demand at the very time your competitors are cutting back and losing their place.

You have more impact during a recession, when others have fallen strangely silent. You may also get more for your money. Lower demand means there are bargains to be had!

Not that I am advocating you snatch up bargains just because they are there. It is amazing, but there are still businesses out there who believe they are practising good marketing by having an advertising budget and spending it willy-nilly. Marketing and advertising butterflies could have a field day with cut-price advertising during a recession.

But, ironically, it is the ineffectiveness of this kind of approach that encourages a perception in some quarters that marketing is expendable when times get tough.

Instead, this is the time for investing wisely. You need to get close to your customers and find out their needs and desires.

Then get the right consultancy support to develop a clear and well-defined PR and marketing strategy that focuses on the channels that will have the greatest impact. Maximising your budget in this way helps you to build your business through the tough times and to position yourself perfectly to bask in the light that, we all fervently hope, is at the end of this particular tunnel.

maintain PR spend during recession
Position yourself to take advantage of the light at the end of the tunnel

McGraw Hill studied the 1970s and 1980s recessions, tracking 468 companies in the first and 600 companies in the latter. The results were quite conclusive. The results of maintaining marketing spend were even more marked in 1981-82 than they were in the 1970s.

Those who maintained or increased their spend were up 275% compared to just 19% for those decreased their spending.

Another obvious step to take as we enter uncharted financial territory is to tune your marketing to market conditions. We can be pretty confident that value-for-money will become the prime consideration for buyers.

Do not confuse value for money with 'cut price'. All that a 'two-for-the-price-of-one' deal is certain to achieve is the devaluation of your product or service.
Instead you should add perceived value to your product or service. And that is where PR is king.

© Ken McEwen Public Relations, 2008.
No unauthorised reproduction without full acknowledgement of source. All rights reserved.

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