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Marketing budget reductions 'misguided'

In uncertain economic times, businesses that reduce marketing spend to achieve a 'quick fix' are usually misguided, writes marketing specialist Dr John Rudd of Aston Business School.

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Information should be used to react rapidly to meet new challenges and whether there are thriving times, or times of uncertainty, businesses must be marketing led.

It is relatively easy for businesses to sell goods and services within the "boom town" mentality of a thriving economy. However, in times of environmental turbulence and uncertainty, "customers", whether these are businesses customers or consumers on the high street, will naturally scrutinise their spending and be more selective. It is the job of marketing to make it their company's product or service that customers select.

History suggests that in uncertain economic conditions organisations tend to immediately reduce marketing expenditure in a misguided attempt to improve their economic position to provide a "quick fix". It is not the marketing budget that is usually the problem.

Effective marketing can help organisations to cope with the problems of increasingly uncertain and discerning customers and come out in front. This can be done this in a number of ways, firstly changes in the market should be identified through market research, with the collection of customer and competitor information. This information should be analysed and strategies re-aligned rapidly to meet new challenges. If this results in being able to add value for the customer, this should be communicated to them. Highlighting any products or services that truly add value to their customers, should be drawn to their attention through the most appropriate media, including advertising.

In times of uncertainty, successful organisations will be able to recognise and adapt to changing conditions. The faster the change in the environment, the faster the response from the organisation must be, in order to meet the new set of challenges presented.

So for successful marketing departments, any economic uncertainty should mean more work, not less which should reflect in holding or increasing budgets, certainly not cutting them.

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