There is no question that we are in a serious recession with no end until at least 2010. However, it will end, I promise. With that said, however, you need a marketing plan to get through these difficult times and it really must be a different strategy from what you have done in the past.
Conditions and consumers have changed and now you must change your marketing strategy.
The first thing is to not cut marketing dollars but to spend them wiser. Look for any dead wood to eliminate and look at each and every marketing expense to make sure you are getting the highest return on investment that you can.
Just because you have done something in the past is not justification to continue with these expenses. Especially pay attention to those dollars that just go to promote your name or company (image ads) that do not necessarily bring in customers.
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Make your entire advertising outcome driven, as much as you can. Find out how customers found you and then allocate dollars accordingly.
By far, one of the least productive sources of advertising is the phone directories. Most people use the Internet to find people and craigsnet.com seems to be one of the hottest sites.
Another thing you must do is make advertising value driven, which means you must get to the heart of what your customer needs and wants.
I thought one of the best examples of this was Hyundai. The automobile manufacturer’s campaign said that if you lost your job, you could return your new car to the dealer.
Now I know there must have been 10 pages of legal limitations on this, but the ads got to what the customer really valued.
The final point about marketing during a recession is that you must concentrate on your existing customers. They trust you and are much more willing to buy from you than a new customer.
Up selling to existing customers is not only profitable, it is really the only viable market for so many businesses.
Now go out and make sure that you look carefully look at every marketing expense to make sure you are getting the highest return you can.
Jerry Osteryoung, a professor of finance, can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of Dr. Osteryoung’s articles can be found in a searchable form at www.cob.fsu.edu/jmi.