Marketing pros share advice for kick-starting your business now.
Solid, strategic marketing despite a volatile economy not only helps your business make the mark, it helps your business make its mark in the eyes of your consumer. Leading marketing professionals give their two cents on how your business can improve the bottom line in these challenging times.
- “It’s clearly documented that the companies that continued to spend wisely through the 75-78 recession and the inflation crisis that ensued, and again in 81-82, increased sales substantially over their competitors once the recovery began. Do a couple of things well. Pick out the most important aspects of your plan, get really talented people involved and execute like crazy.”—David Anderson, Anderson Communications Group
- “We have seen tremendous results from companies re-branding, and re-working their marketing plans. The question during these challenging times becomes, ‘Are you proactively developing and managing your brand or is it happening to you by accident?’”—Wayne Johnson, senior partner, World Design Marketing
- “In more than 30 years of working in the field of marketing communications I have been through several downturns in the economy. That experience has clearly shown me that cutting back on advertising and public relations in times like this is not the way to go. Double down on your current customers. Give them special offers. Give them reasons to come back to your store or restaurant.”—Tom Gardo, Denarius Group
- “Give your customers some good news! Let them know you are celebrating, yes celebrating, your 10th anniversar yor have recently won an award.—Barbara Bricker, Owner Small Miracles
- “Everyone wants visibility in the marketplace—now more than ever! We have encouraged our clients not to discontinue their advertising and marketing efforts as it sends the wrong message. Instead, we have cut our costs to help people through these tough times and actively look for creative and inexpensive alternatives to help them accomplish their goals. As Henry Ford said, ‘A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.’”
—Patti Boysen, President, ADi
- “Think tank sessions! Invite your staff, key customers, potential customers to a one-hour box lunch. Ask them what you want to know. Be topic-specific per hour. And enjoy all the ideas that will flow from this.”
—Lisa Carroll, Moonstar Advertising Public Relations
- “You may have fewer advertising dollars now, but don’t skimp on getting your message out there. Stretch your budget with smarter strategy and innovative thinking. There is still value in traditional marketing channels, but in this economy you will get more for your buck through highly targeted campaigns that are possible through digital marketing. For example, Facebook is one of the most inexpensive advertising platforms, yet with the right planning, it’s capable of growing your brand rapidly within the demographic of your choice. Relationship building remains the key in all things marketing, no matter what era it happens to be.”
—Paula H. Magrini, Magrini Media
- “Start asking fundamental questions. ‘Who is my customer?’ ‘Are they shifting?’ ‘What other audiences influence the response/buying decision?’ ‘What is the current climate and how do I need to adapt?’ ‘Do I need to do a better job targeting and less of a job broadcasting?’ Go through an analysis of your business and its trends. Understand who are and what you sell. Only then do you reconsider your approach to image.”
—Tobin Spirer, chairman and chief executive officer, Spirer Communications Inc.
- Look for ways to get out the message through friends and social networks. Ask for referrals and recognize or reward those who give them. Make your database your best friend and communicate with prospects regularly via e-blasts, blogs, Facebook, etc. Web advertising and viral videos can be cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your Web site.
—Carolyn Fleming, president and owner, Fleming Creative Group
- “Web sites and logos are your handshake to the world. The rest depends on what you’re trying to communicate and who the audience is. The wrong thing to do is nothing. There are ways to get the word out without spending a dime. Networking, attending functions – all free.”—Sheryle Wolfe, creative director, Wolfe Graphic Design
- “When the economy is slow, it is the perfect opportunity to reach new customers and grow your business. Most likely, much of the competition in marketing your product or service has cleared out, and you will have a much stronger presence. When the economy turns back around, and it will, you will be in a much better position than your competitors!”
—Cindy Hooker, Fresh Air Business Promotions
- “I think that the economy has made people more aware. I have several clients that are now opting to send e-blasts and e-newsletters via PDF files rather than printing and mailing. It serves the same purpose without the added cost and it’s a nice way to get your information out there and be a little green at the same time.”
—Sherri Dewig, owner, Sherri Design
- “Let me start by saying that all advertising works! Social networking, like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, has created new ways to communicate. Developing a business networking site can become a great customer networking management tool for your business. Also, create a blog for your business with frequent updates. This is critical for both the success of your Web site and your site’s relevance in search engine optimization.”
—Ted Robertson, CEO, Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and PR Robmark Interactive
- “There has never been a more appropriate time for the marketing pros to walk hand in hand with technology experts. We are finding that the fastest and most effective way to communicate with consumers is by offering an easy to navigate, informational and promotional web site. The site presents the voice of the brand, blogs are great for making daily announcements or offering specials, and the Internet can immediately show the stats and results from e-blasts, blog messaging, etc.”
—Betsy Sheppard, company founder and president, B. Sheppard Consulting, Inc.
- “If there is a secret about good marketing, it is in seeking the assistance of a professional marketing consultant. In the words of golfer extraordinaire Gary Player, ‘When you have a toothache, go to the dentist.’”
—Alexander Pastene, owner, Alexander Pastene, M.B.A.
- “When the economy is bad, people ask where can we cut and it’s usually marketing and advertising. That is probably the worst thing you can do. If you don’t get the word out then you’re not going to succeed. It takes some elbow grease, but do some grassroots work. I also believe in combining media. Print sells the steak and broadcast sells the sizzle. Together you can’t lose.”
—Barbara Clark, Ad-Vise, Inc.
- “One variable that isn’t expensive is copy writing. A great headline on an ad can do a lot of powerful things. It can deliver the product or service you are selling. It can bring a tone and personality that is reflective of the business. It can break through the clutter of generic advertising.”
—Ryan Mulqueen, president and creative director, The Mulqueen Agency
- “Never use one advertising medium alone. For instance, a radio or TV/CATV combined with a direct mail or print ad, together, will give your advertising close to a 20 percent boost.”
—Frank Timberlake, RFTimberlake & Company
- “Lately, in the midst of this uncertain economy, bringing value to the wallets of your audience and showing empathy to their concerns is an important message. Also, there should always be a percentage of budget that is earmarked for marketing your business. It takes much more money to reestablish a forgotten brand than to maintain awareness.”
—Erica Thomas, LHWH Advertising
- “Drive prospective buyers to your Web site through print advertising and utilize a minimum number of pages on the site to their maximum potential to gain leads … and lead follow-up is key.”
—Jenny DeVan, Cunningham Tallman Pennington
- “The one piece of advice I pass along to my clients is they need to consider that every experience a customer or potential customer has with your business is a ‘marketing’ experience.”
—Terry Bergeron, freelance marketing consultant
- “The constant reinforcement of your company’s image is critical in the battle for ‘top-of -mind awareness’. The best inexpensive marketing around is to advertise on your vehicles. The number of impressions you can make by being visible in traffic is often overlooked. Colorful, graphic vehicle wraps are great.”
—Ann Graham, The Media Specialist, Inc.