Submitted by: David A. Heiser, Regional Sales & Marketing Coordinator, PriMedia, Inc.

Have you ever wondered why some companies weather the rough times better than others and in fact lead the market most of the time? The answer, or at least a large part of the answer, is simple: they are companies that plan and execute consistent marketing strategies.  

It is a fact that there is no bad time to market your company. You should be doing it in good times and in bad. The key is to make sure you’re focusing on what’s truly important to your customers. While this may seem like an obvious statement, the reality is very different.

When the economy takes a downward turn, most companies immediately look to cut costs. They categorize expenses into three basic groups: “must pay,” “should pay” and “won’t pay.” The “must pay” column is filled with such things as mortgage/rent, insurance, payroll, inventory, utilities, etc. And unfortunately things like sales force and marketing get pushed into the “should pay” or worse the “won’t pay” columns. I say unfortunately because the two most important aspects of moving your products and services to market are sales and marketing.

In terms of marketing (I will save sales for another discussion) the reflex to cut back or eliminate your marketing is a strong one; as your target audience cuts back on their spending it is only natural to think that marketing becomes less important or that the return on investment will not be there. This is a trap! The truth is that while consumers (individuals or businesses) might be spending less in tough economic times, they still have needs and still spend money. The trick is to make sure they know who you are, can find you, and come to you, and then that you are there to give them true value for their dollar. It is a simple truth – a prospect cannot do business with you if they do not know you exist. They will simply seek out your competitor who has a clear and visible presence.

The solution? Consistent well-planned marketing. While it is one thing to carefully plan and even stretch your marketing budget, never eliminate it from your day-to-day business. Start by identifying your strengths as well as the weak links. Ask yourself the following questions: does your company have an effective branding presence?; how are you perceived by your current clients?; and how do you want to be seen by prospects? What products and services make up the backbone of your company and which ones need better exposure? What is your core message?  It all boils down to deciding on who you are and the direction you want for your company’s future.

Once you have identified your message and direction the tricky part begins. How do you crystallize all of this into a comprehensive strategy while maximizing your marketing budget? This is specialized work and it makes sense to work with marketing professionals who have mastered the challenge. Remember to get a jump on your competition before they get the jump on you!

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