26 September 2008

Full Steam Ahead

With many businesses slowing down as a result of the current economic conditions south of the border, there is a lot of uncertainty and with both Canada and the US in election mode, I think many people are holding off on many large decisions to see how these play out.

Our company seems to be unaffected by this for the time being and continues to grow - which is exciting. If you think about it, now is the time businesses need to get their marketing house in order.

Some businesses prosper when times are a bit tight and other not so much. I think this is a direct result of marketing - doing it right and doing it wrong. Another way to look at this would be is your marketing changing with the times or is it status quo?

In past recessions, consumers became a bit more cautious in their spending and spent more time deciding on major purchases - when times are good, these decisions can be fleeting and are not met with a second thought. When consumers begin to analyze their options in a purchase is when your marketing and messaging needs to be it's sharpest. This is good news for companies that are using the web to its full potential (few are).

Understanding your customers motivation for purchasing a product and what will influence their decision may help in crafting your message to be more relevant and poignant.

So, what can you do?

1. Know your brand. You must fully understand your brand - and I don't mean memorize your pantone numbers - you've got to know your brand intimately, it's personality, it's purpose, it's relevance and it's appeal.

2. Correct your messaging. Ensure every single thing that you do is branded properly and that the relevance and appeal that brought consumers to your door sells them on that decision by reassuring them that you are the right choice for them.

3. Be flexible. Subtle changes in the market may dictate the priorities of the consumer and the ability to change focus and market other attributes of your brand may help you be more targeted by being more relevant for the changing times. This does not mean wholesale brand make-overs; if your product tastes great and is less filling, maybe you need to change it to less filling and tastes great.

4. Networking. Some call this advertising, I don't. You need to get your brand into numerous venues, mediums and social environments - integrate with consumers. When the time comes that they need your product, they should know you are there. There is more to it than just selling your product to the end customer - there are influencers and the end purchase may not be a direct result of your direct offer, but through an intermediary.

5. Strategize. If you want to win a game, you need strategy. Same thing in marketing, if you don't know what your end goal is how are you going to get there? Craft a plan that will take you to your goal, set a budget and review it regularly. A watched pot does boil.

There you have it - 5 useful points that you should implement right now.

If you're boarding up the windows and waiting for the storm to blow over you might as well close up shop now. The companies that sharpen their marketing and stop taking their customers for granted are the ones that will come out as the market leaders when the sky is blue again.

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