I know, I know. Times are tough, and something’s gotta give. Your first inclination may be to slash that marketing budget.

But wait…not so fast. Although marketing can be a hard area to justify on those monthly financial reports, if you take a big-picture approach, you may see your profits actually increase while others see theirs take a nosedive.

Let ’em know you’re there
As other businesses shutter their doors, people may wonder if you’re still around today—and if you plan to be there tomorrow. A combination of advertising and well-done public relations sends the message that you’re in it for the long haul. That inspires confidence in both your current customers and your prospects.

Up the ante
Harvard Business School Professor John A. Quelch tells us: “Brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”

Take a close look at your competition and the mediums you may have utilized in the past. If your competition has dropped off radio, now’s the time to dial in and get on. If they’ve pulled from print, place an ad. If they’ve turned off TV, tune in and turn it up.

On the tips of their tongues
Individuals, especially during a recession, become even more brand-loyal. According to the online resource Small Business Newz, “During an economic downturn, a good brand reputation could be a matter of your company’s survival. When times are hard, people prefer to do business with others whom they know and trust, even more than when the economy is strong.” Keep in mind that loyal customers tell their friends. Reinforce that positive image with name recognition via advertising.

Don’t go it alone
Just as your customers trust you, so should you put your trust in the knowledgeable hands of an advertising professional who can take the time to make sure you have a congruent, effective marketing plan. In many cases, businesses stumble through by printing a brochure here, running an ad there. What really works is a well-thought-out, consistent plan composed of strategy, methodology and proper execution.

We all have to take a close look at our business practices in this current economy. But in that same breath, it’s important to make smart decisions—and that doesn’t always mean cutting back. Having a significant presence in a tight market will not only put you a head above the competition, it will also instill confidence in your customers that doing business with you can be the upside in a down economy.

So step away from the knife. And put some money back into that marketing budget. iBi