Making sales through the storm

Written on the 7 April 2009

 

Media and marketing consultant Kaye Smith says now is not the time to sit and wait for the storm to blow over
 
WHO are you if your customers don’t know where you are?
In an ideal world, marketing activity would be self-supporting, always paying back multi-fold what it costs to execute and be effective in reaching every potential buyer in the appropriate sector. But according to media and marketing consultant Kaye Smith, the reality is that the times are changing. Most importantly, now is not the time to sit and wait for the storm to blow over.
During an economic downturn the most common statement by advertisers is: “Business is bad right now so I’m not going to advertise until business picks back up.”
This can be compared to: “I’m not buying petrol because the price is too high.”
Many companies automatically pull the shutters and try to ride out the economic storm. However, our attitude should be to market now more than ever. When times are good, advertise. When times are bad you must advertise. 
It’s a proven fact that businesses that continue to market during economic downturns emerge stronger and healthier than if they did nothing or reduce activity. Why? Because consumers with no money don’t plan on having no money forever. They realise that they will also emerge at the other end of the downturn.
They make notes along the way on which products they will buy when they once again have a disposable income. Consumers with less income than normal become more selective as to which companies they patronise and gravitate to the ones marketed to them. They won’t buy from companies they have never heard about. They will buy from the ones they know about – the ones who continue to market themselves.
From a business POV, if a company fails to maintain its share of voice during an economic downturn, current and future sales are jeopardised. Maintaining share of voice costs much less than rebuilding it later on when all of your competitors are back in the market place vying for the same audience.
An economic downturn does not mean zero sales for all businesses; it can however mean fewer dollars in the marketplace.
We all know that consumer behaviour changes during a downturn and this affects your bottom line. Your audience may spend less, delay major purchases, or trade down to a cheaper alternative.
But not all consumers stop spending. They may alter their behaviour to better fit their financial situation, but they will keep on spending. They will lean towards a cheaper alternative, but if you maintain marketing activity, they will aspire to return to your brand in the future. 
The task for business owners is how to maintain sales. This can’t be achieved by taking your brand out of the marketplace.
When times get tough, the tough get going in the marketing department - providing the market with visual evidence of your corporate strength, your leadership, and your expertise. Don’t rely on the advice that says you must cut marketing budgets, reduce head counts and reduce the quality of materials.
Everything you do right now reflects the health of your company. Just by staying active you are saying: ”We are here for the long haul, we are not a fly by night company.”

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