Creative Marketing Saves Money, Drives Business

I’ve worked in marketing in some form or another for almost 15 years and have been the victim of economic down times brightidea(i.e. layoffs) because most companies see that as the first, most expendable part of their business.  But….they’re wrong!

If you sit and think it really makes more sense to make a marketing push when things are slower in order to keep your name out there.  When you stop communicating to your customers, discontinue special offers/discounts and such they are probably going to head off in another direction, or worse….think you’re out of business!!  Sure you may have to make some concessions on pricing (as I mentioned in a previous post), but isn’t it worth it to have some sort of sales then none at all?  Yeah, now you see it, don’t you?

The bottom line is that you just have to become a bit more creative in how you stretch your marketing dollars.   Here are some tips to evaluate where you’ve been and where you would like to go in the next few quarters:

1. Look at your overall marketing budget (you do have a marketing budget, right?  If not, then look at what you spent this last year on all of your marketing and use that number).

2. Break out where you spent money – PR, advertising, direct mail, sponsorships, promotions/cross-promotions, even signage, website (SEO) and email campaigns can be included here.  Anything and everything that contributes to marketing your business.

3. Categorize each one by the amount of money you’ve spent – the most expensive being numero uno.

4. Now, determine how effective each element was in driving business (I’d list these as A, B, C, and so on)

5. Look at the year to come – have you planned your marketing calendar for the year including promotions, seasonal sales, couponing, direct mail, PR opps, etc.?  You should.

6. Now weigh your upcoming year against the most effective forms of marketing from 2008.  How do they fit together?  Is there a new, affordable option you haven’t considered to reach customers?

The point of this exercise to get you to really think about where you’ve been putting your money to market your business, and if there’s any “fat” to cut for 2009.   Maybe you now become much more targeted in your campaign and take advantage of DIY PR but hire a consultant for a fraction of what you would pay to have them do the work or you create more promotions that are really unique to your industry and market, and so on.  Sometimes it helps to step back and ask the question “what would I be interested in, no really, what would bring me to the door of my own business to spend money right now?”

In unusual economic times it can pay to be unusual yourself, but remember, you also have to communicate it to current and potential customers if anyone’s going to cash in on it.  Sometimes, all it takes is one bright idea.  It’s funny how challenging times can force us to generate something new for our business that we might not have seen or considered before, mostly because there was no need to until now.

More to come on this…..in the meantime, send me your questions or unique marketing ideas that might help others remain positive and excited about their business even when times are challenging.  Remember: even if the economy is “slow” people are still buying….they’re just weighing their options looking for the best quality alternative to meet their needs.  Be that alternative!

Jennifer Fortney, Cascade Communications, jfortney@cascadecomms.com

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