This month we're continuing our "go green" articles, but it is obvious that the elephant in the room is the economy.
In a doctor's waiting room last week, I ran across an interesting article that talks about ways to respond to our current economy. From there, I began a search that displayed 50 years of solid evidence where America's top companies have moved their brand forward during bad economic time periods. Retreating from marketing, branding, and advertising is the wrong direction to take and has negative effects on your business long after a slow economy has come and gone.
Let's remind ourselves of the long and short-term reasons that we advertise in the first place:
- Short-term advertising creates sales no matter what the economy. New leads and customers will still buy if given the right reasons, creating sales now.
- Long-term marketing efforts are where it really gets interesting! That's when the exposure you have given yourself with ads, tradeshows, and direct marketing builds on itself, though you may not see the results monthly. If your competition backs off, your products and company are the one that people start comparing everything else in the marketplace to.
- The more familiar potential customers are with YOUR name and YOUR products, the more chance you have to stay in the running when the time is right. Trust and familiarity are some of the results of advertising, and that will lead to sales if the message is consistent. Unfortunately, brand recognition loses momentum as soon as advertising stops. With all the media pounding you do to gain customers' short attention, you may risk future sales; so continuing to bring customers along costs less than re-establishing them in the future.
There is an even better reason to continue a solid advertising and marketing stream--the possibility of creating market dominance.
Don't laugh! Here's a study done by McGraw-Hill Research during the brutal 1981 - 1982 recession. They analyzed 600 companies in 16 different industries from 1980 to 1985 and found that business-to-business firms who maintained or increased their advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 economy averaged significantly higher sales growth--both during the recession and the three years following--than those who eliminated or decreased advertising. By 1985, sales by companies who were aggressive advertisers during the recession had risen 256% over those who didn't keep up their advertising.
One more fun (if not really current) example: In 1929, Kellogg's and Post equally shared the breakfast cereal market. Unlike Post, Kellogg's continued to press on with advertising through the Great Depression, and with that, they gained a market dominance that is still in play today.
I realize that this all sounds self-promoting, but the evidence is there...and you can find plenty more if you do the research. If nothing else, I hope this gets you to go back and fortify or rethink your plans for 2009.
Director of Sales and Strategic Alliances