The suspense is finally over. After an interminably long election season, we have the results. President Obama will serve four more years. Already, there have been significant repercussions to this announcement in the business world. The biggest news has been large companies like Applebees and Papa Johns trimming payroll, claiming that “Obamacare” will be too expensive for them to be able to maintain a full workforce. Many manufacturers are fearful because of the medical device tax, part of the Affordable Care Act due to go into effect in January, 2013. The bad week that Wall Street had in the wake of the election signifies a lack of certainty, or perhaps a general feeling that Romney would have brought better news for business. One could perhaps say that businesses as a whole are not feeling secure in the current domestic and international economic environment. Instability seems to be ruling the day and the fiscal cliff looming doesn’t help things.
Regardless of the cause, one of the most common reactions to uncertain times is make cuts in marketing until it’s more clear how the times are progressing. Marketing can be viewed as a luxury item, great when you can afford it but not a necessity. Factually, there are fewer times when marketing is more important than when the economy is hitting a rough patch. We preached this passionately when the economy took a major hit in 2008 and 2009. Many companies wanted to cut back on marketing before they even began to feel the impact of the recession. In the long-term, this is not always the best decision.
The Message Not Sending A Message Sends
Ultimately, marketing is a way for you to tell your story to your customers and your prospects. Here is your product, and this is why they should consider buying it. Here is the service you offer, and here is how it could benefit them. If you are not out there telling that story, the likelihood of someone else telling it for you is pretty slim. During uncertain or rough times, if you stop sending out your story, you will experience the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” People may even assume that your silence means you went out of business. You will lose the opportunity to remind people you exist along with the opportunity to explain why what you offer is superior.
Lest you consider this advice self-serving on our part, see what others say:
The Emotion Factor: Companies don’t experience uncertain times in a vacuum. Your customers are experiencing the same thing. Back in 2009, Entrepreneur Magazine noted that when your customers are watching every penny, that’s the time when you need to really emphasize the value you offer. You need to remind your customers why they trusted you in the past and why they purchased from you in the past. Given a choice between trying something brand new or something reliable, people are more likely to gravitate towards a known factor.
Know What To Focus On: In 2008, John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School, wrote an article for Harvard Business Review noting that marketers should not cut back on marketing during a recession, but rather that marketers increase their targeting and determine what needs to be focused on most. He offers eight items to focus on in the article, ranging from a shifting of product promotion to emphasizing your company’s core values.
Mine for Gold: John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, and The Commitment Engine, wrote a blog post in 2008 offering advice on how to dig out of a recession. Rather than cutting marketing, his advice leads companies towards focusing on existing customers, reconnecting with former customers, and creating a flawless process for winning new customers.
Set Your Budget, Set Your Priorities, Have A Plan
If ever there was a year to have a grounded marketing plan in place, 2013 seems to be it. There are more opportunities than ever to market your products or services; there are more competing messages reducing the amount of attention you can get, and the economy remains a point of trepidation. The advice some marketers give, which is to “try everything,” is simply irresponsible at this time. Too much revolves around every decision you make. Have a plan. Consider all of the options in front of you, but do not be distracted by “shiny objects.” The conversation should focus on corporate objectives and what tactics will most efficiently move you towards achieving your company’s goals. And measure – measure your progress, measure your ROI, measure what works and what does not. There is a difference between continuing to invest in a marketing campaign versus simply tossing money at your marketing department and hoping for the best.
It’s pure conjecture to try to determine if the same uncertainty would have existed had Mitt Romney been elected. Factually, the US economy and the world economy is still far from healed. Too many people still are without jobs, and as we have discussed before, the business world itself is changing dramatically. All we can know is the reality we’re in now, and that reality is marked by a lack of confidence. Approach your marketing with a clear head and clear goals in mind.
If you need help, feel free to download our free white paper offering advice on how to approach 2013, or leave us a comment with any questions or comments.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robr/2911349913/ via Creative Commons