While marketers might complain that they never get a big enough slice of the budget, there are two times when marketing often gets too few resources when it really matters.
The first is when the economy – or even just the company – is on a downhill slide. And at first glance, it seems to make sense. With fewer resources available, everything gets shifted to life support. The question that drives everything becomes, “How do we stay alive until things rebound?”
But it’s not that simple. An investment in marketing is the one thing that can actually bear fruit and put money back in the bank. It can produce income in excess of the expense. So if you need more business, investing in marketing makes a lot of sense, even if it means you have to forgo something else or tap a line of credit.
Of course, that amplifies the need to be extremely selective about how and where you market. The emphasis has to be on those activities with the highest likelihood of resulting in sales (as it always should be).
There’s one other advantage of marketing into a downturn, and it’s longer term. It keeps you top of mind during the time when fewer people are spending. Once the faucets get opened again, there’s pent-up demand for what you offer, so your recovery comes faster than it might otherwise.
The other time the marketing purse strings are tighter than they should be? When business is booming. Again, the logic here can seem sound – why put money into marketing when we have all kinds of business walking in the door?
The answer has at least two parts. First, you should market into momentum. Make that wave crest as high as you possibly can. If you have a larger share of the market in boom times, you’ll keep a larger share when things tighten up – and that can sustain you.
And second, things will slow down, even if they don’t fall off a cliff. The marketing you do right now is probably going to bear fruit some time in the future, just as much of the business you’re enjoying right now is driven by marketing you’ve done in the past. To keep customers coming, keep marketing.
In fact, when business is brisk, consider setting funds aside that you can tap into when things slow down. Because they will slow down. And boom or bust, the companies that market consistently over the long term are better equipped to ride out the valleys and take advantage of the peaks.