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Cut Your Marketing and You May Drain Your Brand

Bleak headlines about the economy, jittery customers pulling back on spending, and increasing costs for energy, health care, travel...ugh!  The downward trend is daunting and makes it tempting to cut expenses to stay afloat. If you are facing this, however, beware of cutting off your lifeline in the process.

USE A SCALPEL, NOT A HATCHET

Marketing is often the first department to fall to the budget ax with the rationale that "When things pick up, I'll make it a priority again."  The problem with this seemingly logical thought is that it's not logical: eliminating the lead-generation and brand enhancement activities of marketing now may prevent business from picking up later.

To illustrate the point, I often use my favorite buy-and-sell corollary to the law of supply and demand: if you wait for someone else to buy, you give up all control and sense of empowerment.  Second, you relinquish to your competitors a tremendous opportunity to get your brand in front of target audiences first, more frequently and with fewer alternative brand choices. Over time, this adds up, and likely not in your favor, because if you're not visible it is harder to sell.  When the economy turns around - and it will - your brand may be long forgotten.

Instead of hibernating until things get better, inquire about how to maximize marketing during an economic downturn, and how much should be invested in marketing.  Not to be confused with "advertising" (a large expense with minimal return), target marketing allows you to position yourself for success to a finite group of prospects that have been pre-qualified as viable candidates for your product or service. You are in a great negotiating position when it comes to promotional activities. When the audience is filtered down, print runs and other production costs can be smaller and the opportunity to follow up on those sales outreach initiatives will be more manageable and a more effective and efficient use of time.

POSITIONING ON A BUDGET

By prioritizing your goals, positioning your brand and narrowly defining your audience, you can survive a down economy. If you take it a step further and create a smart marketing plan that includes strategic and creative implementation tactics, you may actually thrive. Prospects will see that you're still in business, which will portray a positive impression. Clearly you must be doing something right and they'll want to align themselves with a company or organization that can stand the test of time.

The truth is, consistency is king. This is not to say that companies should stay on the same tired course they've been on and spend until there's nothing left to spend. Whether we're in a bear or a bull market, successful companies keep their brand in front of their prospects and do so with a strategic marketing plan. The means of distribution may change and the overall investment of time and dollars may fluctuate, but staying ever-present can mean the difference between being in business and being out of business.

Contact Incite Creative today to discuss our targeted approach to marketing and design that includes a facilitated Positioning Workshop , Customer Interviews and a Marketing Action Plan. Together we will devise a strategic marketing plan that works within your budget, and positions you for success in the year ahead.

Dina Wasmer is President of Incite Creative, Inc., a provider of strategic marketing and graphic design services. Contact her at dina@incitecreativeinc.com , or see www.incitecreativeinc.com.

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