Surviving a downturn calls for a different way of thinking
A business with no signs is a sign of no business, says Pauline Fraser.
With activity down in Aberdeen, many businesses are continuing to cut their costs to try to ride the downturn wave, but Frasermedia’s Pauline Fraser says a firm’s marketing or PR budget should actually be the last, not the first, to go.
There is no doubt that times are tough in the north-east, with every expenditure under scrutiny, but when it comes to keeping a business going, firms need to stop looking inward and start talking to the outside world. Cutting your PR expenditure or marketing budget is not going to help your business grow, in fact, it is likely to see your turnover decline.
If your competitor is active on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and has a regular presence in the media, the potential customer may opt for the business which looks like it is in business.
The more you put your business profile and brand building on hold, the more you stop surging forward and developing your brand and your reputation, and most importantly, the more you stop communicating with the one element that will ensure your survival – your customers.
In good times, business owners know that PR is not a luxury but a necessity. And that doesn’t change when times are bad. In fact, PR becomes more important than ever. Do you want your customers to wonder if you have gone out of business? Pulling the plug on communicating with your customers could see your efforts slip down the drain.
If you have reduced your marketing spend as a reaction to the economic conditions, take some time to think about what impact this will have further down the line. Just ask yourself – if nobody knows about my business, how can I expect them to pick up the phone or visit my website? If your answer is still to drastically reduce communications, be sure to switch the lights off on the way out.
Clever business owners know that an economic downturn is precisely the time to harness the power of PR to raise your profile and your marketing game. While your competitors hunker down and cut promotional budgets, this opens up an opportunity for your brand to jump in and grab valuable customer attention.
Making sure your key messages are promoted in the right market at the right time is where PR experts earn their keep. It’s not about bragging about how well you are doing – instead good PR focuses on increasing your profile and building a reliable reputation. A proactive PR and marketing plan will find creative ways to showcase your innovative ideas, across a variety of relevant platforms.
How your business is seen has an impact on productivity as well. In a downturn, when staff morale can be low and employees are fearful of losing their jobs, a considered, regular PR presence can boost staff morale and make employees feel proud of where they work.
Surviving a downturn calls for a different way of thinking. A brave and creative business will realise that the benefits of being active and keeping a dialogue going are significant. After all, where will customers go first when things pick up?