How are some businesses able to sustain themselves, while others wither and die? Although many factors affect an organization’s sustainability, one of the key elements is a commitment to marketing. In our experience, we’ve found varying levels of this commitment. There are companies that maintain a steady focus on marketing and those that “do marketing” when it’s convenient or easy.
When the news media reminds us of our “weakening economy” and business appears to be slowing, companies look to save money. Many times, the first item slashed is the marketing budget. But ironically, marketing is the one area you should bump up a notch when things get tough.
A more strategic approach is to maintain—or even increase—your advertising during a downturn, especially when others are cutting back. This affords you the opportunity to dominate your market and create brand awareness without the competition’s messages diluting yours.
What’s one of the reasons people stop advertising? Because it works. Although it seems counterintuitive to stop doing something that’s effective, it happens all the time. Business leaders decide they’ve got “enough” business or they’re worried about keeping up with demand (which is a legitimate concern).
In times of profit, it’s tempting to relax and not keep looking toward the future. However, pulling back on advertising can quickly take you from “top of mind” to “out of mind”—and that’s a place no one wants to be.
Start with a plan
Like anything, starting with a plan can mean the difference between success and failure. But for many, creating a marketing plan seems like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. Begin by establishing some basic marketing objectives that support the overall goals of your organization. These could include:
- Increase brand awareness among target audience
- Drive 10% more visitors to the website
- Enhance customer database for cross-marketing purposes.
Then, establish the steps necessary to make these things happen. A few action steps for the second objective might include:
- Review all sales literature, printed forms, specialty items, etc. to be sure the web address is located everywhere.
- Research places where your website should be listed with a link to your URL (Chamber of Commerce, association directories, etc.).
Stay the course
Sustainable organizations require consistency in their marketing efforts. Results are rarely immediate, and often intangible. Yet the rewards will be worth it in the long run. iBi