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Recovering Before The Recovery

The important question during a downturn is not whether or not the economy will recover -- it will; it always does. What's important to ask is whether your company will be in position to surge as the economy begins to grow. To a large degree, the level of your success will depend on your marketing efforts and capabilities -- what you have done during the downturn and what you put in place now to win business during the recovery. You will need to make strategic decisions about choosing new media, entering new markets, and positioning products.

Success will also depend on the timing of your efforts. Now is the time to establish marketing plans for the recovery -- formulate strategies, design campaigns, make media choices, justify expenditures -- so you are ready to go with an approved marketing plan as your company's budgets open up and you have marketing funds to invest.

Recover from Marketing Cutbacks

If you were forced to reduce your marketing exposure during the downturn, it's essential that you regain momentum early and quickly. Your visible presence in the market through sustained and frequent marketing will give your company a jump start before the market becomes overcrowded with messaging from competitors. Then, as demand begins to increase, you will have an advantage because potential customers will have been continually exposed to your messaging and have an affinity to work with you.

If you did cut back, you likely need to do more now to catch up. You will need to remind customers and prospects that you are here -- a strong and viable company ready to serve their needs. Even if you did maintain marketing during the downturn, you must continue or increase your marketing efforts because the competition for customers is only going to increase as the economy continues to recover and companies that are hungry for new business compete aggressively.

Plan Now to Ensure Success

A typical marketing cycle looks something like this: establish marketing strategy, identify marketing objectives, define target audience, research media options, conceive campaigns, calculate costs, craft messaging, gain executive endorsement and marketing funds, execute campaigns, measure effectiveness, refine tactics.

As every marketer knows, that's a lot of work. If you save it all until budgets open up and your company is ready to invest more in marketing, you'll end up scrambling to put together marketing plans and seek budget approval. By the time you actually get out there in the market, you'll be well behind competitors who got an early start.

It Won't Be "Marketing as Usual"

As an enlightened marketer, you know that you must be prepared to think differently about your approaches to connecting with customers, prospects and markets. Even before economic problems hit, your customers, prospects and markets had moved away from traditional media sources such as printed trade journals and in-person trade shows, and toward online media such as online search, e-newsletters, virtual events and banner advertising. Your audience has already migrated online, and will continue to stay online as the economic recovery continues.

Choose an appropriate mix of targeted online programs that offer measurability and ROI, and provide evidence to support marketing decisions. Only in this fashion will you be able to emerge from the downturn in a strong position to drive growth.

1 comment about "Recovering Before The Recovery ".
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  1. David Slatter from Claymore Marketing llc, November 4, 2009 at 11:24 a.m.

    Angela, some great advice here. I’d also add that with so many companies operating in ‘maintenance’ mode for such an extended time that CMO’s should seriously consider refreshing their competitive assessment/knowledge before leaping back into the marketing arena. Also during the downturn many customer dynamics have changed and they likely will not return to previous states- you might have thought you knew your customers and markets, but purchasing habits, media consumption, price points etc will all have changed, so be sure to do your homework and thoroughly research markets, media and competition.

    As you have already stated the move from traditional to online, and social media, will have a profound impact on marketing programs, so the best advice is test, test, test. Constantly evaluate program effectiveness and refine your execution- the good news is that online media is much more flexible and offers faster feedback and opportunity to tweak and make required improvements.

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