Marketing is crucial in a slow economy

Last updated on May 19th, 2022 at 07:09 pm

At some point, almost every company will go through the process of tightening belts and reducing budgets. Considering the state of our economy, more companies are looking for ways to save money by cutting spending. At times, the first budget item to get cut is marketing.


For all of us, and especially companies, these are the times when we truly test our mettle and street-smarts, and listening to your gut can beat out book-smarts. Businesses in Milwaukee and Wisconsin can battle through these times and even grow their business.


Consider for a moment a dad-arable (a dad parable) my father shared with me during my college days. Thinking back, my father was dead-right and I’m glad he took the time to share this story. I don’t recall the conversation leading up to this discussion, so we’ll jump in at the important part.


“Al, sometimes you can’t over analyze marketing, you have to get the word out and you have spend the money even when times are tough – especially when the times are tough,” Dad said. “What do you mean?” said I, most likely while rolling my eyes in an all-knowing collegiate way. Dad then said, “Have I ever told you the one about the farmer and the billboard?” “No, I can’t say you have,” I said, settling in for what I assumed would be another pointless and very long story.


Dad went on to tell me about a farmer who ran a popular fruit and produce stand at the end of his driveway in the summer and fall months. His farm was on a country road beyond sight of the highway. The revenue that was earned went toward vacations, house improvements and his young son’s education fund.


Fixed costs were very low and some of the only money spent included the initial investment to construct and paint the produce stand. The farmer’s main ongoing expenses included a billboard on the highway that pointed customers down the road to their farm, advertising, “Farm Fresh Produce!”


Some years passed and his son went off to college, paid for by produce stand money, and picked up some book-smarts in the big city. After a couple more years, a summer came when the produce stand’s sales slumped, and the situation troubled the farmer. So, he called up his son to get his advice. When his son came by, he knew exactly what to do. “We’ve got to cut costs!”


The cost he eliminated first, which represented a large component of his expenses, was the budget for the billboard. He said it wasn’t an income generator. After the sign expense was cut, produce stand sales dropped to an all-time low, causing the farmer to cancel his winter trip with his wife to the Florida Keys.


The moral of the story is that businesses need to get the word out to tell people about your business and products, even when times are tough. If you don’t – times will get even tougher.


There are even opportunities for gains in this economy if you maintain or increase marketing, when your competition cuts. Companies can also think about utilizing billboard marketing, public relations, social media and online advertising more.


During this time, it is wise also to make sure your activities are strategic and focused.


Al  Krueger is founder, president and brander of Comet Branding LLC in Milwaukee.

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