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By Cheryl E. Walters, Jun 1 2016 04:00PM

While the U.S. has made a steady climb out of the 2008 recession, a slowing Chinese economy, collapsing commodity prices, and massive layoffs recently within the oil and gas industry due to low oil prices are making many companies skittish — especially when it comes to marketing and advertising budgets. During tough economic times it makes sense to reign in spending, right?


When it comes down to how and when to spend your marketing budget, here are a couple of thoughts to consider: When times get tough, competition is getting fierce and if you’re planning on cutting your marketing budget, how will your customers find you? And if your customers are out there, shouldn’t you be? Here are a few pointers for getting the most out of your marketing dollar:


Hold your marketing budget steady


It's imperative to stay on track with your marketing efforts when business is down! A series of six studies conducted by the research firm of Meldrum & Fewsmith showed conclusively that advertising aggressively during recessions not only increases sales but also increases profits. In fact, even a modest investment can reap big rewards — once the economy brightens and competitors who pulled out come rushing back, customers will already be familiar with you.


Invest in your current customers


When customers make purchasing decisions in a downturn, they’re more likely to go with a company they trust. If they’re more likely to go with you, then you want to make it easier and more obvious to them why they should. Market to them — and ask them what they need from you. In short, when you care about your core customers, they’ll care about you and stay loyal, during good times and times that aren't.


Kick it up a notch online


According to We Are Social's global report, Digital in 2016, a comprehensive study of digital, social and mobile usage around the world, 71% of Web users in the U.S. went online within the past 30 days to research products or services before they buy and 66% purchased a product or service. Wth so much "noise" online, you need to get in front of your customers with more focused and effective search and online advertising campaigns. Online marketing is “trackable” marketing that can provide you with real-time consumer data and sales leads.


The results? You’ll be reaching your customers when they need to hear from you most


It's time to get savvy about your marketing dollars and spend them to reap the rewards of your efforts. The key is to look at your marketing budget as an investment — not an expense. Use the customer knowledge that you have and implement SMART marketing during these times of economic uncertainty:


S – Strategize

M – Maintain market spend

A – Assess and allocate the budget

R – Research your customer thoroughly

T – Target and reach out to them


If your customers don't see you on a regular basis, you can bet your competitors have noticed and are knocking on their door. By coordinating your marketing efforts, establishing a communications plan and aligning your budget to a set of prioritized deliverables, you'll maintain your position in the marketplace and receive the most "bang" from your marketing budget.

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