A Down Economy Provides Opportunity to Gain Market Share
By now, we are all tired of hearing it – stock market woes, the government bailing out banks, car manufacturers, airlines, and limited lending capabilities. Understand that for most of us there will be no handouts, what is the small to midsize business to do? The answer, for the most part, may sound counter-intuitive.
In 2001, the majority of my clients were in the marine industry; boat manufacturers and the like. Most of their products would be considered luxury items, or at best discretionary income items. When the market suffered after 9/11, most of my clients were facing a hard truth. Luxury items were falling by the wayside and sales and profits were falling dramatically. People were scared with their money, and were “waiting to see what the market would do.” My boss, and mentor at the time, met individually with most of our clients, and repeated the same mantra over and over: “This is the time to gain market share, to establish a position of strength.” After getting many raised eyebrows and few chuckles, he would go on to explain. There is no easier time to gain market share than when everyone is contracting their marketing efforts. The market will balance out again, people will spend again, and those that have made the effort to stay in front of the marketplace will stand to gain the most growth.
Marketing 101 tells us that establishing your brand is the single most important thing a company can do from a marketing and advertising perspective. Contracting marketing efforts, and taking a “wait and see” attitude will contribute directly to the death of any brand. The day after GM declared their bankruptcy, they were running commercials on network television about how they were thinking ahead, and the only “chapter” they were concerned with is the next one. I will not make any judgments on the way GM is run, or has been run in the past, but I will tell you I commend them for addressing the situation and staying in front of the public - immediately.
While it is easy for me to say that marketing efforts need to be increased in a down economy, the reality is that budgets have been cut, and in some cases the funds may not be there. Then the question becomes “How?” That is a question every company should be working feverishly on with their ad agency. There are always new and creative ways to stay in front of your market. The Internet is certainly one; guerilla marketing is another, and was born out of necessity for companies to get in front of their audience in an inexpensive manner. Putting flyers on windshields used to be the go-to for many smaller companies; it was inexpensive and effective. The point is that small to mid-size businesses need to get creative again, let their competition take the wait and see approach, and gain market share during this downturn in order to flourish when we see the market come back. It’s not as far off as we think.