The economy is rough, we all are feeling it to one level or another. Businesses are becoming more and more cautious with their spending and some are even going to the extreme by cutting their marketing budget all together! Big mistake!
Didn’t American businesses learn from the market turmoil after 9/11, that if we stop marketing our companies, we become stagnant? Marketing is what drives sales; sales mean profits and profits help us pay the bills!
This was nearly the exact word for word conversation that I had with a small business owner a few weeks back. We were at a restaurant, both waiting for our guests to meet up with us, and just struck up a conversation. He asked me what I did for a living and when he heard the words “Promotional Marketing” in my reply, he quickly replied, “Man, your business must be really tough right now!” “No, it’s actually the opposite” I responded, his puzzled expression said it all, but he went on to explain that he had cut all of his marketing budgets in order to save costs.
I explained to him that tough economic times lead to great opportunities for all business, but especially small businesses, and that by cutting his marketing budget, he was actually putting one foot in the grave.
You see, over the past 20 years, American companies have been throwing their marketing budgets at every concept and effort they could find, even without proof that it would work. Now that times are tougher, the first reaction is to cut the marketing budget because for most companies, it’s a fairly large expense!
The reality is that you should never cut marketing completely. Yes, you can trim it down, but your efforts need to become intentional, more focused, more creative!
As an example, let’s take an actual case history example from ABC company (the names have been changed to protect the profitable). They didn’t have much of a budget left for the year, but they want to make an impact on their target audience and create brand awareness.
Their target audience is a large company located within their market area, which happens to be in a cold part of the country where rain and snowfall often during the winter. Their goal is brand awareness. They want to create goodwill and leave an imprint on the minds of this particular customer. Their budget, $600.00 total.
The Concept… “You can see clearly now…”
Since this is a cold part of the country where rain and snowfall, people tend to come out of work and have to scrape their windshields before being able to go home. Two hundred ice scrapers were sold to the customer with their logo and the tagline “You can see clearly now.”
The customer made arrangements with a local high school football team for a donation to be given to the organization as a fundraiser for the team.
On the next snowy afternoon, the team would send over a representative to pick up the ice scrapers. They would then go to the employee parking lot of the large customer mentioned above and would proceed to scrape every windshield perfectly clean. When done, they would take the scraper and place it under the windshield wiper as a gift for that employee. In return, the team would earn a donation of $1.50 per windshield scraped.
A total of 118 windshields were scraped clean and 118 employees came out that cold day to a pleasant surprise and the gift of a new ice scraper for their future use. The customer reported major approval and positive response from their largest customer and as a result, sales increased with that customer over the next year by 30%.
In addition, the football team earned $177.00 in fundraising for about 45 minutes worth of work and the company that donated that money to them earned publicity in the school newspaper and e-newsletter that goes out to parents, showing their involvement in their community. All on a $600 budget.
This is a prime example of a focused and creative marketing effort on a limited budget. What other marketing avenues could they have used that would have gotten their name in front of their target audience, left a goodwill impression and a token of that memory with the customer that they will use often over the next 6-8 months? All on a $600.00 budget!
My recommendation, don’t make the mistake of cutting your marketing budget! Contact a promotional marketing company that offers creative ideas on how to solve your marketing budget. If they just want to sell you the ice scraper, but can’t tell you a creative way to use it, go somewhere else till you get that level of service! Your business depends on it!
Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of printing services and promotional products and ecommerce solutions. To reach Chris: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.bigdogbranding.com/.