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Marketing in a Down Economy

By: Brian Gallagher

As the economy continues its slow recovery, businesses in the construction industry face dynamic challenges. However, while many tighten their belts and cut their expenditures, in challenging economic times and competitive conditions, marketing is more important than ever. While dollars may be tight, studies show that a consistent presence in the market-place now will pay dividends in the future. The challenging economy presents an excellent opportunity to review your marketing efforts and ensure you are acquiring new and retaining existing customers. Further, many have shown that marketing dollars invested in a down economy are actually more valuable than those spent in a good economy as you gain greater market presence.

Regardless of the economy, marketing strategies must be constantly reviewed to ensure business goals are being met. This is definitely true in a down economy, as it is a great time to take advantage of limited marketing spending by others, which improves your chances of getting noticed and standing out. In other words, turn the challenging economy into an opportunity. Although it may seem prudent or even appear to be a good business decision to cut back on marketing costs to “save money,” it is very important to maintain consistency and stay true to your marketing goals. After all, the need for building a brand and creating awareness, as well as generating leads for opportunities, doesn’t go away when the economy is sluggish. In fact, it is more important than ever.

Many would even argue that marketing during a downturn actually gets you more “bang for your buck.” In fact, marketing dollars invested during down economies when others are cutting back are more valuable than dollars spent in more vibrant economies. This is because that dollar spent represents a greater share of the total marketing expenditure. After all, when your competitors choose to cut back on their advertising and marketing budgets, such a scenario results in less of a presence from your competition in the market-place and a greater impact will be realized with your efforts. For example, as competitors cut back marketing spending, they are likely cutting back on investments in search engine optimization and marketing. Take advantage of this and rise in the search engine result pages. Further, with decreased revenue, many publications may be willing to negotiate lower prices or value-added package deals, editorial opportunities, or even merchandising opportunities. It also is a great time to invest in public relations as publications may tighten their freelance budgets and are likely looking for article content.

Another opportunity may be creative partnerships with vendors such as trade show hosts, printers, advertising agencies and more as these firms want to keep their own staffs busy and may be willing to negotiate more than during the bustling times. Digital media is another opportunity. Be sure to take advantage of the efficiencies of digital which include lower costs and improved tracking opportunities.

Marketing and advertising during a sluggish economy also boosts the confidence that customers and potential customers have in your company as your consistent market presence will deliver the message that you are a strong, viable, stable company. Such a message contributes to long-term brand building and supports your differentiation strategy. And, when the economy builds again, the top-of-mind awareness you’ve built will result in a sustainable competitive advantage.

In sales, there typically is not a better source of future revenue then your current customers. And, this holds true in tight economic times. Your current customers already have a relationship with you, and hopefully you have performed for them.

Marketing to your current customers is critical during downturns. Continue to invest in integrated marketing programs to maintain constant contact with your customers. Find more ways to add value by offering current customers a new or expanded offering of services and products. Offering complimentary services and products is an excellent way of providing more value to your customers. This can also be achieved by forming strategic alliances with companies that offer complementary products and services. Again, the goal is to find opportunities to provide more value and forge deeper relationships.

While downturns in the economy are challenging, they also force us to look at our activities and initiatives and make tough decisions. In reality, this is a very healthy process, and forces us to look at the return on marketing investment. A critical evaluation of marketing investments will result in greater efficiencies and more effective programs.

Consistency is important in marketing. Consistent investments in marketing yield consistent results in terms of lead, opportunities, closed sales and ultimately, profits. Resist the urge to slash marketing investment and seize the opportunity to build your brand, generate more opportunities, and drive more profitable revenue.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.