Marketing In A Recession Benefits Small Business
When consumers turn on the TV or listen to the radio, they get bombarded
with the words, recession, TARP, unemployment, foreclosures, and other less
than positive descriptors. No wonder small businesses are fearful of their
long-term viability. But there is one thing small businesses can do to take
control of their future. They should increase their marketing efforts. Spend
money on marketing because that is the one thing that will increase their
chances of surviving the recession.
Traditionally, when a small business faces stagnant or negative revenue growth, they look to cutting expenditures to offset their lack of growth. One of the first areas that typically gets cut is the marketing budget. This practice causes marketers to shake their heads in disbelief. It doesn’t make sense that when a company doesn't meet their revenue expectations, they cut the one strategy that is supposed to generate leads and bring in revenue. So why cut the marketing budget? Maybe small business owners are spending their money on strategies that fail to yield a return on investment. Or maybe the owner doesn’t know which strategies target their customer base effectively. They could be tired of throwing money down the sink and seeing no customers in return. Maybe their reasoning is all of the above.
Conversion Pipeline has recently completed a marketing strategy project for a company that has been in operation for close to 25 years. That company's marketing budget was full of association membership dues, events, direct mailings, promotional gifts and other traditional marketing line items. The major component missing from their marketing plan was any form of online marketing.
Michael Delpierre, President of Conversion Pipeline, stated "we were surprised to see a lack of internet strategies in their marketing mix. What most small business owners don't know is that internet marketing strategies such as search engine optimization, pay per click, email marketing and others, are typically cheaper to execute than traditional marketing strategies as well as yield a higher return on investment". Most consumers in the U.S. have heard of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other major social media outlets. Most businesses view these websites as “time killers” not as “marketing strategies”. With the proper focus and guidance, companies can increase their marketing reach by utilizing social media tools that are inherently free.
Marketers would love for small businesses to deploy internet related marketing and advertising strategies to help them raise their brand awareness and drive traffic to their website. Mr. Delpierre stated that small businesses should "submit a press release, start a blog, create a corporate Facebook profile to see who in your customer base is online. Start the online conversation, get input on your business, determine new market trends, redefine your target customer, offer promotions, gain competitive intelligence, and more importantly, take control of your marketing efforts. Now is the time every business should spend more time and money on marketing". Statistics show that companies who spend more money on marketing in today’s environment will be the ones to ride out this recession and exit with a stronger foothold in the marketplace.
Marketing does not start and stop at the small business owner. Every person working for that business should become a marketer and help promote the company and it's value proposition. Marketing is something that employees should do to ensure that their company will prosper during these hard times. Harvard Business School’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter summed it up best when she said, “are you facing falling customer orders? Slower renewals? Cancellations? Requests for even deeper discounts? And you have probably cut budgets and jobs more than you like. So now what? When you can't (and shouldn't) cut any further, you can leverage the creativity of the people on your team. In a recession, everyone should be in marketing." What Ms. Kanter is alluding to is that marketing is not a single player game. In times like these, everyone needs to be a marketer.
To small businesses this sounds like a marketing call to action. They must take control of their future and use smart marketing strategies that yield a high return on investment. They can finally track their marketing performance, tweak, and re-implement strategies to achieve a higher return. Small businesses need to elevate their marketing strategy and get involved in social media and other internet-related strategies. Small businesses need to start that conversation with their target audience; they may be surprised with the results.