When I was a little girl living in rural North Carolina, my family always had a big garden. Once my mother was planting peanuts, dropping the seed into the long rows my dad had dug. Following a safe distance behind her, I picked them up and ate them as fast as she could plant them.
Fortunately my snacking was discovered before my parents covered the furrows and waited for the seeds to sprout. If they hadn’t, they would have been very disappointed in the peanut crop that year.
Just as it would be counterproductive to eat your seeds when you need a snack, it’s bad business to cut out your marketing budget when times are tough. Yet that is just what many businesses do in a knee-jerk reaction to a downward business cycle.
Rather than continuing to invest their marketing “seed,” many businesses pull back on advertising, public relations and sales because they “can’t afford it.” They are eating their seed. That makes no more sense than eating the peanuts out of the rows and expecting a bumper crop come harvest time.
Marketing during a recession is not only essential to maintain sales during the duration of the recession, but it also positions you to take advantage of the upturn as soon as the economy turns around. If your customers haven’t heard from you in 12 to 18 months, why would they think of buying from you when things are better? You’ve got to refresh your brand in the minds of your customers.
During a recession, you can take advantage of some real advertising bargains. Many times you can request “value added” benefits from print publications such as prime placement or mailing lists, and you can negotiate some great deals in broadcast advertising because of surplus inventory. Don’t accept the standard rate card quote – ask for a better deal.
Online advertising is a great bargain and often is highly targetable. With Facebook advertising, you can determine the city, gender, age, marital status, education, occupation, workplace and other demographics of your desired audience. Google Adwords and LinkedIn ads are also very adaptable to your market. Start with small campaigns and refine them once you find the keywords that work best.
And you can get some great talent now for under market value. Scores of sales reps, marketing managers and PR pros are looking for jobs because so many businesses are “eating their seed peanuts.” That means smart businesspeople (like you!) can hire great employees for less than they ordinarily would have to pay.
Don’t hold your breath and wring your hands, hoping your business will survive the recession without any investment in marketing. That will guarantee a slow, painful death through starvation. Plant your marketing seeds, water them and keep out the weeds. The sun will come out eventually, and when it does, you’ll be able to enjoy the bountiful harvest.