Marketing Your Firm Through Uncertain Times

When hard economic times hit, many businesses cut back on their marketing communications plans without considering the consequences.

Trimming marketing and promotional efforts may cut costs, but in the long term, it will more likely cut sales and sever ties with customers.

"When times are tough it's natural to want to cut something that doesn't contribute directly the bottom line," says Paul Seroka, Chief Marketing Officer of The Seroka Group, Inc, a Stamford-based consultancy. "But it is in recessionary periods when promoting and enhancing your ties with customers becomes more important than ever."

Historically, businesses that have fared the best during cyclical downturns - and even better when good times return - are those that maintain their communications efforts.

Entertainment and fast food are two good examples.

Many major motion picture studios traditionally strengthen their promotional programs during periods of uncertainty. Similarly, most fast food chains, like Pizza Hut, and soda companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, go to extraordinary lengths to promote new business when times are tough.

That's because these superb marketers know the value of maintaining a high profile with their customers.

"The key is a focused approach," says Seroka. "By channeling your marketing resources in the right direction, your efforts become more efficient and productive."

Of course this doesn't mean you have to have an enormous budget to succeed in getting your point across. The most important thing is to make sure your communications effort is reaching the right people.

Marketing communications is really a sound strategy regardless of economic conditions. Starting a program establishes a base of awareness for your company and/or product. Maintaining a viable plan will enable that awareness to grow and prosper.

"We can't change the economic climate," says Seroka, "but we can show you how to take a sensible and sound approach to your business plans when times are uncertain."