While it may seem that the only option is to scale back marketing activity, or stop it altogether, the reality is that this is a time to keep as visible as possible, and to be brave with marketing decisions. Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, says: ”Even when you can’t outspend your competitors, you can still out-think them.” David Patton, CEO of Grey London, says he would never cut marketing budgets when times are tough: ”In difficult economic times you need to maintain strong profile and presence.” Being open to change or trying new forms of marketing can reap rewards, too. So how can you be sure that your marketing budget is reaching your customers and persuading them to act? Eric Newnham, global CEO of out-of-home communications agency Kinetic Worldwide, argues that ”the best way to profit from a small – indeed any – marketing budget is to understand your customers better than anyone else.” Invest in understanding what makes your customer "tick". Then you will know that your future marketing activity is appropriate to your customer. Patton agrees: “This way you can be confident that the media you choose to use for advertising is media that they will see, and are likely to respond to.” Splitting a marketing budget between on- and offline media makes it go further by driving a greater number of consumers to seek out your business. ’Offline’ marketing media such as posters, print or radio spreads mass awareness of your business or product, reaching more people in one "hit", directing them to find out greater detail online, and perhaps providing the opportunity to convert interest into a sale. It’s important not to overlook the fact that offline marketing media can be as targeted as online options. For example, by being clever with your outdoor advertising budget, you can geographically target customers in places where you know, from your customer research, they’re likely to be. You will need to consider which "offline" marketing medium is best to reach your clients and potential clients. Customer research will help with this. All too often local businesses presume that press is the only choice for local targeting. Press is a powerful medium, but it is likely to be the default marketing choice for your competitors so it may not be the best one for you. A fresh approach to marketing will pay dividends by making your business top of consumer and customer minds. Poster advertising, for example, is wrongly thought only to be the domain of big budget brands, but can now be bought site by site through the service provided by Signposter.com, making your business ’behave like the big boys’ in front of a wide local audience. Jenny Nguyen is marketing manager for Signposter.com. Related articlesBeat the recession: 10 business tips to beat the recessionTalking dirty increases traffic. Fact.Survival of the Fastest: Guy Levine on internet marketing
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