About five years ago when I was attending a marketing seminar for 1500 senior Sony executives in Washington, at a time when the US economy was feared to be entering a recession, the president of the Sony Corporation stood up and said, "We had a board meeting this morning and it was unanimously decided that Sony would ignore this recession..."
In nutshell he was simply being logical because there is nothing that harms a company more than when the entire staff go into a negative tailspin of depression about how they are going to survive bad economic times. The president of Sony knew that the first step to facing tough times was to ensure that employees were positive.
So, the way to not only survive tough times but to actually profit from them involves some fairly simple marketing steps:
- Top executives need to impress on their employees and lead by example in being positive by looking at tough times as a period in which they can steal a march on their competitors.
- Don't demotivate sales and marketing staff by unceremoniously slashing budgets. First, rather tell them to look at the efficiency of what they are doing to make existing budgets more productive. This ALWAYS works because in good times a lot of budgets are wasted. So insist on having a marketing audit which always inevitably indicates areas of more efficiency. If they can't do that, then slash their budgets and fire them and get someone who actually understands marketing.
- Insist that measurement tools are put in at THE START of every new promotion or campaign. Measurement need not be expensive and leads to increased marketing efficiency and higher ROI. If anyone suggests that there are some things in marketing that cannot be measured - fire them. Everything can be measurement and MUST be measured.
- Now is a good time to put all senior staff (yes, accountants as well) into a room and go over the basics of marketing. Show that marketing isn't just about advertising and big ideas but is a clinical checklist to make sure everything is working together. Marketing is about getting good returns on investment not winning awards.
- If history is anything to go by your competitors will do what they always do and what you always did, and that is just batten the hatches, cut marketing and advertising budgets and sit tight until things improve. By using marketing logic, you can take advantage of their hibernation to take some of their market share away.
- Marketing is not all about the more you spend the more you get, it is about the more you think the more you get. More than R50 billion is wasted on bad marketing in SA every year - make sure you are not contributing to that figure.
- If you get your marketing process properly organised and running efficiently during an economic downturn you will not only profit during that period but come out of the other side way ahead of your competitors.
- Above all think positive. Think of the opportunities a downturn is giving you and let a rational approach to marketing help you on your way.
- Computers can't do marketing. Only people can. And the efficiency of your marketing is directly relative to the mood of the people behind it. Demotivated, uninspired people need lots of money to make marketing work. Inspired, positive people don't need half as much money.
- A simple look back in history will show that thousands of really great global brands were actually conceived and launched during tough times. It wasn't desperation it was inspiration.
- Does this all work? I'll say it does. I've proved it with my own business.