I’m fed up with hearing about house prices, credit crunch, job losses and the economic downturn but the truth is we can’t avoid the reality of the situation.

An uncertain climate can breed its own sense of doom simply because we fill in any gaps with a natural inclination to “fear the worst”.

Without wishing to appear too smiley in the face of adverse trading conditions for many I would advocate a positive outlook in such times.

If your business is basically sound, costs manageable and customers happy, the last thing to do is start cutting back to protect your profit margin. Invariably in times of recession (and yes I’m old enough to remember working through interesting times in the past), the Finance Director sharpens the pencil and looks at what they may consider expendable expenditure. Expendable? What they really mean is areas that they either don’t fully understand or worse believe can be managed by fewer, less experienced individuals.

Classic targets are I.T., Marketing and Sales. In the short term a payroll saving can be seen but in the medium to long term lack of IT investment and strategic input will offer far greater concerns.

The role of the marketer in these times becomes critical rather than optional. Many successful businesses traded out of recession to new heights whilst their competitors rationalise expenditure and keep collective heads down awaiting the “all clear”. When the economy picks up the business that took a bullish approach will be at the front of everyone’s mind whilst others will need to spend considerable sums to re-establish the brand and profile.

Interestingly I facilitated a strategic day for a firm in the north of England recently and part of their SWOT analysis identified “recessionary conditions” as an opportunity. Instead of seeing such businesses as commercial pariahs we should learn that we can all find positives from difficult trading conditions. Simply forcing us to re-engineer our business model is no bad thing and certainly a task where you’ll benefit from an experienced marketers and IT support.

If competitors are drawing in their marketing guns at this time think of how much impact you could make by launching a new product or service and giving the media some much needed positive copy.

Of course in such a brief article it’s easy to offer generalisms such as this however in practice the logic for any ambitious, proactive business is to look outward to identify new ways to generate revenue rather than look inward and ponder who goes first when you wield the hatchet.

Tips for marketing through a recession;

  • Resist the pull to reduce prices – good customers will remain as long as you continue to provide the right level of service.
  • Stop marketing spend on unfocussed campaigns and focus on profitable sales.
  • Target your competitors (customers) as they may be struggling either due to over extension or poor management.
  • Protect your image and business by looking at the intellectual property that supports the brand(s).
  • Consider divesting yourself of any brands that may be of more value to a 3rd party.
  • Continue to seek outstanding candidates who may see the writing on the wall at competitor firms.
  • Re-evaluate supplier relationships to improve budget efficiency.
Don’t be economic with your future
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