Your business MUST communicate during these strange times – here’s why and what to do.

Unsurprisingly the word ‘Recession’ has many business owners reaching for the financial brakes and frantically reviewing their expenses and outgoings. During the 2008 recession many businesses chose to stop their marketing activity as one of the quickest ways to reduce their spend and a recent survey by Marketing Week found that 26% of respondents are already predicting budget cuts in that area.

But what happens when you stop marketing your business? And why should marketing be one of the last expenses to cease?

When you are effectively marketing you are sending a positive message to your audience. You are showing them the strength, resilience and consistency of your brand; so cancelling your marketing plans is a little like throwing the oars out of the lifeboat to make it lighter!

Stopping your marketing activity will stop your brand reaching the people you need to reach – your customer base. Existing (and hopefully ongoing customers) might start to look elsewhere without ongoing reminders and reassurance that you still exist and are trading as normal – by reducing your visibility you could even weaken your brand, and when this happens any of your competitors who are still being proactive can start to gain your market share. After all, if you are looking to cut your budgets your customers are too and they will want to spend with the supplier who looks the most reliable and buoyant.

Its not all about the sales….

If reducing budgets across the board is necessary then how do you decide which areas of your marketing activity can be paired back? It may surprise you to learn that its not all about the sales! Successful marketing is as much to do with maintaining communication with your clients, sales are a successful by product of the relationship.

Maintaining a consistent and well-planned social media presence and interacting with customers own accounts; making sure that you have fresh content such as blogs, press releases and articles to add to your website or submit for publication and a regular newsletter or communications with your mailing list can be the most valuable cost-effective marketing you do. All of these methods have a personal and ‘human’ element to them, a connection worth nurturing in troubled times.

What can I do?

Don’t Panic! It may feel like you need to make quick decisions to survive but taking a step back and looking at your business goals to navigate the coming year can be priceless.

Forewarned is forearmed. If you have never taken the time to assess your current marketing then now is the perfect time. Identify your ‘ideal customer’ consider where you might now have to look for them and hone your marketing towards them. Use the various analytics tools available to analysis your web traffic and social media hits. Understand why people are buying from you with surveys and then do more of what they love!

Adapt and thrive. You may be able to adapt some of your current marketing activity or embrace new platforms and methods to seek out potential new clients. If you have always spent large amounts of money on advertising would a more targeted approach give you a better ROI? Instead of a full-page glossy magazine ad would some geography specific mailshots work better? Especially if they were followed up with personalised emails?

Speculate to accumulate. If you have never specified a budget for marketing now could be the perfect time – or if you have always done as much as possible for very little outlay this could be the time to set a measurable budget or even spend a bit more to make sure that you are getting it right.

Its not all doom and gloom…

Economic and social downturns, although worrying times for business owners don’t have to be all ‘doom and gloom’, and change doesn’t have to be a negative experience.

Businesses that stand their ground can and will come out the other side. For customers that are lost there are opportunities for new ones to take their place. Businesses can streamline and focus their operations and be more specific about who they are targeting and this can be reflected in their marketing messages. New niches will also emerge and businesses that continue to monitor and adapt to the situation will be quick to recognise them.

At The Bridge Marketing we have a toolkit of ideas and proven methods to hone your marketing strategy for the coming months. We can help with everything from social media plans to advertising campaigns, press releases to customer survey creation and assessment. Speak to a member of our team today and we can make your marketing plain sailing.