By Todd Smithee

Without a doubt, the economy is not booming these days.  Every day brings news of another government bailout plan designed to prop up another failing industry.  Record numbers of layoffs provide feature stories on news websites and cable news channels.  All of this doom and gloom can lead one to believe that cutting all costs to the bone—and this includes marketing expenditures–is key to weathering the storm.  But paring down your marketing agenda is not necessarily the way to go.

Sure, you will want to consider cuts in production when inventory is high.  But you should also take advantage of this opportunity to gain market share from your competitors.  First, focus on delivering excellent service to your existing customer base.  The last thing you need is to lose existing clients at any time, but especially during a time of economic distress.  Actively search out ways to help your clients protect their customer bases and increase their sales.  There is no better way to get on a client’s good side than to help them survive the downturn.

Once you’ve done that, maintain your marketing and sales activities.  The time to expand market share is now, while your competitors are cutting marketing and sales activities to the bare minimum.  This may not pay off immediately, but it positions you for expansion when the economy turns around.    A Pennsylvania State University Smeal College of Business newsletter, which refers to a newly relevant 2005 Smeal and University of Texas article in the International Journal for Research in Marketing, compares the best businesses to the best-trained athletes: “’athletes often choose times of stress to mount attacks: strong runners and bicycle racers may increase their pace on hills or under other challenging conditions’ to beat out weaker opponents during the most difficult leg of their race.”

So take a chance.  Be smart and measure your ROI on your marketing investments.  But don’t simply close up shop and wait for the storm to pass.  Your staff will appreciate your “take charge” attitude and you will position yourself well for the recovery, or possibly, for the present.

PSU Article