When times are good, all areas of a business tend to pile on the pounds, both metaphorically and financially.
This occurs partly because the business 'can afford' the additional expense, since it is positioned as 'investing for future growth'.
Come a recession, companies automatically, and perhaps subconsciously, switch to panic mode, cutting headcount across the board and slashing budgets in non revenue generating departments, such as marketing.
When times get tough, remember that marketing does not generate revenue directly, but cutting the budget here curbs businesses' efforts on the lead-generation side.
In effect, you will be reducing the number of leads and curbing investment in the only aspect of the business that is going to get you through the lean times.
This attitude to investment is common in organisations of all sizes, from the SME to the multi-national.
If there are fewer prospects out there looking for new products and services, and the competition for that business is becoming increasingly intense, surely it would make more sense to improve the chances of winning business by differentiating our sales proposition, as well as retaining the loyalty of our existing customers.
When we want to communicate with our customers, what do we do in practice? We use the same old marketing material.
Surely it is time to take a fresh look? Communicating a business proposition is a two-way process, and communicating the offering in a creative fashion will make your proposition stand out and give you a better chance of closing a deal.
Identify tools that will help you deliver the messages that your prospect wants to see. Look for something that will allow you to incorporate the various different types of media that you will want to use, such as animation, sound, slides and video. Ensure that the tools are easy to use so your sales people can quickly get to grips with them.
When times are tough, survival is not assured. Differentiating the message through the use of high-quality media, and being able to deploy this material in an interactive and intuitive fashion, is key.
Now is the time to invest. Differentiating one's proposition will be the difference between survival and failure.
Mike Smart is managing director of the GOWI Group.
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