I know it's counterintuitive, but the fact is that most businesses land their axe on the one thing they should protect in slow times: their image by way of their marketing.
We have a real problem with our belt loopholes. When things are good, we let that belt out and get lazy. We don't think we need to market as heavily because, after all, things are terrific. But then, invariably, because not enough attention is being paid to marketing, things start to slow down – and when things slow down, we have to tighten that belt.
In business, you have to deal with ups and downs, and the truest test of any business is how it navigates the channel when the light is dim. This is where consistency must play a role to see your business into a safe port. The more constant your marketing efforts, the less the ups and downs will have an impact on the bottom line. When your competition is struggling, you will still have gas in the tank.
I would argue that when things slow down, more, not less attention should be paid to marketing. With the advent of social media, this has become even more necessary and more possible.
I often run into businesses that have a real problem being honest with themselves when it comes to how well they are doing. I called a medical practice just last week and was regaled by the marketing director about how incredibly busy they were - oh, they were bursting at the seams by all accounts. What percentage of their patients were referrals from other patients? Oh, 70%, of course. The other 30% come in from other doctors. Sounds pretty good, right? Wrong. I asked how many new patients they had per week lately and the marketing director said “three.”
Hmm, three new patients a week? Not exactly a thriving medical practice considering they had somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 doctors. That meant that seven out of 10 doctors weren't seeing any new patients.
Marketing by virtue of the actual word, and the fact that it includes the “ing” at the end is something that must be done constantly. One of the most effective methods, both in terms of cost and results is to have in place a PR effort. It is one of the most crucial things a company can have in place. When used effectively and given the attention it deserves, a PR campaign can be a company's lighthouse, keeping it on the right course, no matter what other issues may be present.
Have a public relations effort in place. It doesn't have to be expensive, just effective. Stay on top of it. Your company should be doing press releases as often as possible. Don't think you can go swimming by dipping your toes in the water. Momentum in public relations is key.
Bretton Holmes is owner of Holmes World Media