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Marketing in a recession

June 27, 2010

A funny thing happens in a recession. The marketing space-time continuum warps. Actually, it doesn’t just warp – it completely breaks down and, in fact, pretty much self-destructs. All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, the normal rules of customer relationship marketing (CRM) no longer apply.

As the economy gets sluggish and people become more prudent and analytical in their spending, does it make more sense for a company to court its loyal customers, serve their needs and make them feel special, or to stop communicating and engaging with them?

You would think the answer is a no-brainer. But it’s amazing just how many companies decided this past year or so that it was more important to meet a quarterly number than it was to continue talking to existing customers and/or trying to engage new ones.

I have never quite been able to fathom why, at a time when companies need to do their absolute very best to retain and acquire customers, advertising budgets get slashed, loyalty programs bite the dust and new marketing initiatives are put on hold, which is marketing-speak for “never again to see the light of day.”

There is a certain irony in the fact that when times are good and customers are plentiful, pretty much any marketing program will get approved. Yet when times get tough and business is difficult to find, marketing line items get deleted quicker than a text message on Tiger Woods’ cell phone.

Here’s a thought: If your marketing initiative isn’t robust enough to not get slashed from the budget during a recession, it shouldn’t be in the plan during the good times, either.

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