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The basics of marketing in a recession

Smaller budgets have to work harder to get your company noticed. By Ian Exall

While efficient use of smaller marketing budgets is particularly critical at the moment, it’s also a more competitive environment with more companies fighting over less work.

Having a better offering than your competitors is critical. But you need to tell the market that you exist, have something to offer and that you are what they need. Here are some of the basics:

  • Your website: Keep it up to date. It should explain your full range of products and services, outline why you are the best choice and make it easy for visitors to get information. It should also be the focal point of any promotional activity that you do.
  • Your database: Selling more to existing customers is the cheapest and easiest way of increasing or holding onto revenue. If you don’t have one, get a temp in to gather the data from past letters, invoices and emails to build one. There are plenty of proprietary database products on the market and they don’t all need a huge IT department to set them up.
  • Direct mail: Once you have the database, send out letters and mailshots to keep contacts aware of what you can do for them and that you exist. The hit rate for direct mail is very low but it can be very targeted and an effective back up to other activities.
  • E-communications: A very cheap and modern replacement to traditional direct mail. A concise, regular email can be powerful particularly if it links back to your website. But don’t over do it. No-one likes to get spammed with loads of emails.
  • Newsletters: A good means of telling your contacts what you can do and what that they didn’t know you can do for them. Using case studies is an excellent way of showing that you have performed well with other companies.
  • Press relations (PR): is another very cost effective tool to use but it takes time to gather the information, the quotes and the story that will be newsworthy. Even if you don’t have the funds for a PR agency, you can give someone the task of producing the press releases and where they should be sent.
  • Advertising: The traditional face of marketing. It can be extremely powerful but the key is to do enough to make sure that your target audience has a chance to see the ad and take on board the messages. One off ads are by and large a waste of time and money.

Ian Exall is the Communications Manager at insulation manufacturer Rockwool and a committee member of CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s construction industry group.

Construction News is running the Built Environment Marketing Awards which includes best in-house marketing team and best consultancy. The deadline for entries is 24 July. More details at

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