To Market, To Market Your Business During An Economic Slowdown?

  • 1-19-2012

To Market, To Market Your Business During An Economic Slowdown?

 
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It’s an age-old question that small businesses and corporations alike seem to be divided on at the start of each year and beyond. When business is slow, is it better to market your business more using every marketing and social media tool available or taper off until the economy picks up? Or in some cases, just stop marketing altogether?

Microsoft seems to be on track with a marketing reorganization plan of their own. Bloomberg reports that Microsoft’s plan to restructure its marketing operations team could result in hundreds of job cuts and other reorganization plans including moving workers skilled in technical marketing toward groups focused on engineering, general revamping for marketing groups, and cutting employees without the right skill sets needed. With a total of 90,000 employees about 25,000 focused on the areas of sales and marketing in 2011 though Microsoft hasn’t released details on just how many of those employees worked in the marketing department.

The argument for not spending excessive amounts of time and money on marketing during the slower business months is related to two factors outlined by Brad Shorr in The Straight North Blog. Marketing relies on the right amount of execution and analytics in order to do well.  It isn’t the fault of the tools either if your business doesn’t reel in more business, it’s all in how you use them. While I agree with Mr. Shorr’s points, I do have to disagree when it comes to cutting back entire marketing departments, particularly where the newest form of new (and free) media, social networking, is concerned. And now that advertising agencies in 2011 were reported for spending about 10-12% of their budget on social media, it is a force that cannot be ignored either.

What can you do for your business that will aid it during a slow period? There are ways to market your business without spending outside of your budget and at the core of these ways, they all link right back up to the customer.

 

Get Creative

It is one thing to research each opportunity you may decide to take on, but don’t just look at it from an analytical standpoint. Get inside of the heads of your target audience through “micro-branding” which includes daily newsletters, emails, and event announcements both online and in print. Micro-branding often works best for a small business whereas “ macro-branding” which includes TV ads is a better choice for an established corporation.

 

Reach Out to Past Clients

If business is slow, it’s no excuse to sit around and wait for people to come to you. Use this time to reconnect with some of your past clients and see where they are now and how their business or product is doing. They might not be in the same place you left them, but they’re almost always happy to hear from you again and catch up. Talking to past clients may point you in the direction of new ones too- never discredit the power of strong word of mouth. And in between client reunions, get a leg up on some other projects you might not have had the time for before like updating the company blog or putting together a press kit.

 

Set a Budget

Better than cutting an entire department that is very much integral to your business’ success, establish a quarterly budget for marketing and stick to it. Make it realistic for the current slowdown and likewise for months where business is thriving too.

 

Hold a Free Event or Giveaway

Plugging a new product that nobody knows much about? Looking to cater to a new demographic? Hold a free day event! I’m actually doing one today within my company which we only hold once a year with no established date. If you do hold a free giveaway or an event, outline clearly when the event ends but don’t announce it’s upcoming arrival until close to the last minute. It’s the not knowing aspect that will keep everyone on their toes and ready to pounce when they get the chance to participate.

 

Establish an Online Presence

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr.

Consider these three social networking sites and blogging platforms to be your versions of the holy trinity when it comes to putting together your company’s online identity. All offer great outlets to discuss what’s new within your small business and allow customers to chime in with their opinions and feedback too. I have to stress not forgetting about these outlets once you establish them though. Keep Twitter accounts active and blog on a regular basis to give customers the inside scoop of what goes on both behind the scenes and up front. And keep the tone conversational and light- these are fun outlets to work on!

 

Don’t Slow Down- Your Competition Can Only Get Ahead This Way

The main reason not to completely cut the marketing portion out of your business when times are tough? Your competition gets a leg up and you’ll get cast slowly off into the shadows. Stay connected to your customer base and keep on pushing through. Remember that business won’t always be slow and keep a positive attitude toward the state of your brand as well as an alert and bright team surrounding you.


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