CIMCIG’s Rick Osman believes that when times are hard it is tempting, or even necessary, to cut back on your marketing, but where should you cut? More importantly which areas should you not cut

Marketing in tough times is not just about cutting expenditure, it is about getting the most from what you already have. At CIMCIG we have consistently argued that marketing is more important during a recession than it is in times of plenty, sadly not all financial directors are in a position to agree so it is necessary to think about what can be cut and where your efforts might be concentrated.

First things first, this is no time for a rebrand. A new logo or new corporate colour will not help. Whatever you think of your current logo and brand identity, they do have a value. And more than ever now is the time that you must maintain your brand promise. Changing your image will not in itself improve sales and will cost you money and could well cost you customers.
When times are tough your marketing material must work harder than ever so now is not the time to cut back on its quality. Your marketing material is your product so reducing the quality of your marketing message, be it the writing, the consistency of your web pages, the paper stock you print your brochures on, the quality of your stationery, will inevitably affect how your company and its products are perceived.

Your brand is your company’s single most important marketing asset and whatever reduced spending is going on there are things that should never be cut and the quality of your brand is one. There are construction product companies using different logos on their website, their literature and their advertisements as a direct result of trying to reduce costs. They risk losing so much more because they will muck up hard earned and long established brands.

Better to cut out a complete section of your current marketing mix than to water down the quality across all of your marketing activities. Evaluate, statistically or anecdotally, your existing marketing channels and choose which elements of your marketing mix you can best do without. You will miss out on those sectors or individuals who used that channel or wanted that material but you will be making your best effort across the remainder.

So cut out whatever it is that you think you will do the least harm. It might be shocking to cut out sponsorship, Christmas cards, exhibition stands, golf days, advertising, the planned new brochure, rebranding, new SEO on your website, mailshots, email newsletters, website redesign, new CPD but something will have to go, if you have to cut back, you have to cut back.

Don’t cut back on quality (of writing, of design, of inherent promise, of perceived value), nor on product development, nor on regular updating of your website content and most especially don’t be stingy in handing out product samples.

And use what you do have. If you’ve invested in technical literature or CPD material or an email list or whatever make sure you use it. A brochure in a cupboard is a complete waste; a CPD that’s not presented is a waste; a website that is not up to date is a waste.

To sum up, cut the extent of your marketing not the quality.
Rick Osman is a director at construction marketing agency Highwire. Follow him on Twitter @highwire_design