Was this article helpful?
How to optimize marketing in tough economic times
When times are tough we have to work harder and smarter. With the right marketing know-how we can survive and thrive during the bad times and come out on top when the good times return.
There is no shortage of bad news on the economy and its impact on all of us. Credit is difficult to get at best, the housing market has largely collapsed, unemployment is rapidly rising, businesses large and small are going bankrupt at record rates, the stock market has plunged, consumer spending and confidence are the lowest they have been in decades, commodity costs are at historic highs, and markets are shrinking. These realities present serious challenges for businesses of all kinds. The reasons for worry are real and substantial. The worst may be yet to come and a rapid economic turnaround appears very unlikely.
The good news is that the doom and gloom of our current economic crisis has a silver lining. There are practical steps we can take to help our businesses survive and even prosper during these difficult times. You may not experience the economic glory days of the recent past, but you can succeed where others fail and put yourself in front of the pack when better times return (as they surely will).
1. Become more efficient. OK, this is a no-brainer. We have to work harder and smarter. Now is the time to reassess your business practices, priorities and goals. It is definitely time to identify and cut waste and unproductive expenses wherever possible. This does not mean, however, making wholesale cuts across the board - efficiencies must be implemented with thoughtful, surgical precision. You will want to analyze how each expense contributes to the bottom line - both short and long term. Some expenses are better thought of as smart investments you may actually want to increase. So be especially careful in judging how an expense will impact the quality and service your current and potential customers expect. Many a business has been ruined in the name of efficiency. So throw away the ax and get out the scalpel.
One additional word of caution regarding cost-cutting: Becoming more efficient is necessary but not always painless. Change can be threatening to your employees and cause morale problems that can snowball into other problems. My advice is to communicate well and often with those potentially affected.
2. Change with a changing market. Chances are your customers are also impacted by the economic crisis. As their needs and behaviors change, so should your marketing efforts. Take a close look at your business model and adjust it as needed. The specific areas you may want to adjust based on new market realities are: (A) Your products/services and product mix, (B) Your prices and pricing strategy, (C) Your sales and marketing efforts (including advertising, PR and promotion). This is my core area of expertise, so you'll hear more from me on this subject in future articles, (D) Your distribution scheme (how your products and services are made easy and convenient to purchase by your customers). Do the mix of these things better than your competition and you most assuredly will do better than your competitors.
3. Prepare for the future. Don't just react to current problems - think ahead! The economic crisis of today gives you a major opportunity for tomorrow that may never come your way again. This may be your best opportunity ever to increase your market share. Even though the total market pie may be smaller than before, you can increase your slice of the pie while the competition is focusing on cutting costs. While your promotional efforts may not now get you the returns you were used to, you can reap extraordinary rewards when the economy revives. It is a simple fact that it is far easier and less expensive to take business away from the competition during an economic downturn. It's a little like the stock market - people feel pressure to sell their stock when prices are down and pressure to buy more when prices are high - when in actuality the only way to be successful is to buy low and sell high. Likewise, when you feel the pressure to cut advertising/marketing/promotion efforts, the actual way to be successful in the long run is to maintain or increase your efforts.
Learn more about the author, Ed Coumou.
Comment on this article
No one has posted a comment yet. Be the first!
- economic crisis
- sales and marketing
- ed coumou
- graphic design