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Marketing in tough times

Marketing in tough times is not just about cutting expenditure; it is about getting the most from what you already have.

At CIMCIG we have consistently argued that marketing is more important during a recession than it is in times of plenty; sadly not all financial directors are in a position to agree, so it is necessary to think about what can be cut and where your efforts might be concentrated.

First things first: this is no time for a rebrand. Changing your image will not in itself improve sales and will cost you money and could well cost you customers.

When times are tough your marketing material must work harder, so don’t compromise on quality.

Your marketing material is your product, so reducing the quality of your marketing message - be it the writing, the consistency of your web pages, the paper stock you print your brochures on or the quality of your stationery - will inevitably affect how your company and its products are perceived.

Your brand is your company’s single most important marketing asset - don’t devalue it. There are construction product companies using different logos on their website, their literature and their advertisements as a direct result of trying to reduce costs. They risk losing so much more because they will muck up hard-earned and long-established brands.

Better to cut out a complete section of your current marketing mix than to water down the quality across all of your marketing activities. Evaluate, statistically or anecdotally, your existing marketing channels and choose which elements of your marketing mix you can best do without.

You will miss out on those sectors or individuals who used that channel or wanted that material, but you will be making your best effort across the remainder.

So make that cut wherever you think it will do the least harm.

Don’t cut back on quality (of writing, of design, of inherent promise, of perceived value), nor on product development or regular updating of your website content, and most especially don’t be stingy in handing out product samples.

And use what you do have. If you’ve invested in technical literature or CPD material or an email list or whatever, make sure you use it. A brochure in a cupboard is a complete waste; a CPD that’s not presented is a waste; a website that is not up to date is a waste.

To sum up, cut the extent of your marketing, not the quality.

Rick Osman is a director of Highwire, a construction marketing agency, and one of the team that created as well as being a CIMCIG committee member. You can follow his weekly construction marketing tips most Tuesdays and some other days on Twitter For much more information about construction marketing visit


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