Dead Market? Market like you’re not dead.

October 16, 2008

Mark Twain is noted for having penned “The report of my death has been greatly exaggerated.” There’s a lesson in here for nervous marketers. If you’re not out there, you can be mistaken for dead.

I heard recently that the economy is cratering.

Yes, we’re in a bad environment. Uncertain times indeed. It’s called Recession Marketing. What a great opportunity.

You see, belt-tightening—that cycle we’ve been in since 2001—can only go so far. In an uncertain environment, smart marketers can accomplish more by keeping their message out there. Some companies will pull back, so there’s even more opportunity to further distinguish yourself.

The incredible disappearing company.

Your customers want to be lead. They want to see your leadership, direction and creativity. In the void that companies leave behind when they pull back, customers will question where the hell those companies are. The questioning turns to fear, the customer wonders what’s up, and before the company knows it, the customer jumps to a more confident vendor.

“Fortune favors the audacious.”

-Desiderius Erasmus

These are tough times. But you still have to market. So what do you do?

  • Assure your customers. Lead them with your strengths. Invite them to be marketing partners with you through promotions or by participating in your marketing outreaches. Serena Software and agile development partner Valtech ran a booth at Agile 2008 and collected video testimonials for a website storycorps minisite.

  • Get to know customers more deeply. Take time to survey, to learn what they want and how they want it.

  • Benchmark your competitors–hard. Learn what they think their strengths are. Talk to their customers.

And hold the budgets. Hell, increase them. What you’re doing is buying low. You’re either getting discounted pricing because there is more capacity or inventory, or your getting a better chance to be above the noise because there is simply less of it.

Penn State published a paper a few years back titled ”Turning adversity into advantage: Does proactive marketing during a recession pay off?”

I’ve linked to a BNET blog that goes beyond the study. The blog author asked one of the study authors about their analysis. While most of the 154 marketers surveyed said their company cut the marketing budget in a recession, disciplined companies found opportunities to further their leads over competitors. Those firms had the following characteristics:

· They already value marketing.

· They have a culture that’s nervy enough to increase marketing.

· You have the cash to do it.

So do you measure up? Do you have coins and the cajones? Let me know. Or say hi to Mark Twain for me.

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