It’s tempting, during recessionary times, to look on marketing as a cost center and try to find ways to reduce expenses. By all means rationalize your marketing expenses and cut the waste. But remember always that your business exists only because of the market and if that is ignored, your company has no reason to exist. Before going on to look at how to market during a recession, there are two important issues to be kept in mind.

This is when your customers get restless and look for cheaper options than buying from you. You need to keep your marketing effort going to make sure that does not happen.During a recession its difficult, if not impossible, to find new markets. You and your competitors have all suffered some losses and you all want to make them up. There’s only one way to do that – steal customers away from the others. Its only a strong marketing effort that can prevent you from becoming an easy target.

Okay, now on to how to market in a recession. You may have to spend less, because your resources are limited. What you need to do is redeploy the resources you have to maximize the returns on your expenditure.

Make sure every marketing expense is justified. Marketing is an ephemeral art and you will not be able to clearly define the desired ROI on each expenditure. But there should at least be a clearly defined business case to justify each expense.

Hold on tight to your existing customers. It’s tempting to go looking for new customers as existing ones reduce their take in response to reduced demand. Always look for new clients and markets, but remember that your existing clients have special needs in a recession. They may need extended credit or new payment terms. Spend more time with your existing clients and see how you can help them out. Not only will you be holding on to them, but they won’t forget your company when things pick up.

Look for new marketing opportunities and developing niche markets. Keep a close eye on the market and demand trends. Being quick to react to changing conditions can spell the difference between success and failure. Take the example of a company selling paper in boxes of 1000 sheets for $100. The marketing manager finds that there is a demand for boxes of 500 even if the price is $55 because of cash flow problems in the market. If he cashes in on it fast enough, he can corner the market.

Know which market segments will grow the fastest when the recession ends and focus some attention on them, even if they are in bad shape now. Things will improve one day and you want to be entrenched in that market when it takes off.

Try doing some piggyback marketing. Is there a product being marketed where you can join forces to achieve economies through synergies? Or maybe hitch a free ride on one product’s promotional scheme in return for offering the same when you are doing your promotion.

Linda Belan
Your Outsource Solutions, LLC
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