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Using Precision Marketing in a Soft Ecomony
(Marketing Memo, April, 2001)

When times are good, many companies engage in shotgun marketing - "If we fire enough bullets, some of them will land on target." In a soft economy, this philosophy is indefensible. After cutting travel and other types of overhead, companies look for other ways to economize. For many companies a soft economy means cutting back on marketing budgets. Before making radical cuts, take stock, reconsider objectives, and then tailor your marketing programs. Think twice before eliminating programs altogether.

Generally, it is false economy to eliminate or cut back on advertising and other programs when times are tough. To do so means to lose momentum and to give your competitors an unnecessary advantage. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your marketing budget during a slow-down:

  • Reconsider corporate objectives and how marketing programs contribute to these objectives. What are your goals? Do they continue to make sense? A sluggish economy may necessitate modifying expectations regarding who will buy what and how much they will buy. Are overall corporate objectives in sync with marketing objectives?
  • Re-evaluate your target market(s). Are these the best segments to pursue? Have you had success with these segments before? Has anything changed that would alter your chances of succeeding in this niche, for example new competitors with new products or a shifting set of priorities?
  • Check your marketing messages and presentation. Are you presenting the same tired message year after year without checking if it resonates with your target market? Is your format effective?
  • Develop systems for tracking whether you are reaching your target market. Are you using the right outlets? Do your target markets respond best to print media? Electronic media? What are the best choices? Is this a market that is best reached at conferences? Which ones? Sending someone to the wrong conference could easily cost $2,000-$3,000 or more and not bring you the desired exposure. Ask customers how they heard about you.
  • Talk to your customers. Ask them what messages work and how they like to receive these messages. And, don't forget to ask them how well your products and services are meeting their expectations. In short, make sure that you are achieving your corporate objectives and that your marketing programs accomplish precisely what you want them to accomplish.
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