When times get tough, the tough get going. Research tells us that a downturn is the one of the best times for the marketing department to stand out and serve the company well.
Normally, in a downturn most CEO’s will look at cutting costs across the business in order to offset a decline in revenue and marketing budgets are most commonly the ones to be cut. Even in good times the strategic value of good marketing is misunderstood, so during a downturn its function and cost is likely to be challenged more than other parts of the business.
The answer is to demonstrate the return on the marketing spending so that it doesn’t become a cost centre where your budget is calculated as a percentage of revenue, but rather a profit centre where the budget allocations are seen as providing positive returns.
This is important today especially in light of some examples that the impact of marketing can be stronger during downturns than during the good years.
One example of this ability to grow in tough times is Microsoft during the early 90′s. The company believed it had great value in their new product offerings so they got behind them with an aggressive marketing. This propelled the company from being big into a behemoth
A current example, in spite of negative news about global economies, is Apple’s aggressive marketing of its iPhones which are doing spectacularly well.
Don’t just slash your marketing budget because it is an easy target. Now is a wonderful opportunity to think through the customer centric mission of your business and not succumb to blaming the downturn for revenue loss.
Think through your organisational goals and examine all element of the business and ask yourself “why” a specific area (or areas) is not performing well. This will provide you with an indication of the true value being created by that part of the business.
In good times, taking time out to reflect on the business and to define what it could do better doesn’t happen because money is coming in and companies don’t feel the need to challenge themselves.
Neil Fairley – Continuous improvement Strategic Solutions
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