Apr 16, 2009 By: frogdog

Marketing in a Down Economy

Leslie Farnsworth
President and CEO

In a wiggle-room economy, companies have the luxury to throw a few marketing ideas at the wall to see what sticks.

Not so today. There isn’t wiggle room to see what might work. And because of the economy, the game has changed: what worked in the past may not work now.

Smart companies aren’t so shortsighted as to cut marketing budgets entirely. Nevertheless, budgets are cut—and tailored to fit snugly. More than ever, marketing needs to be aligned with a company’s business strategy, targeted to its audiences, focused in its messaging, and measured.

Aligned with the Big Picture

What is the company’s plan for the next five years? Ten years? Beyond? Marketing activity must be in line with the company’s big-picture plan. If the company’s venture-capital investors want to flip it in five years, all activity needs to serve the ultimate goal of increasing the company’s short-term value. In some cases, that may be solidifying the brand’s worth, because a strong brand will increase the company’s value to a purchaser. In others, all activity needs to be focused on lead generation and sales activity to increase top-line revenue. If the company’s plan is to be in business for the next hundred years, marketers need to understand how the company’s current business activity will feed its plan going forward so that they can build a strong foundation for the future. That could mean increasing the company’s visibility and branding and also positioning its current product or service offerings to easily accommodate future additions into the marketing mix.

Targeted Audiences

None of us escaped high school without a teacher telling us to write or speak with the audience in mind. This isn’t new. But it’s often overlooked. Companies need to thoroughly map their audiences. The mapping needs to go beyond just potential customers—marketing plans should include all stakeholders, including current customers, resellers and referral sources, and employees as well. Companies should take very granular approaches when mapping audiences. Who are the target clients exactly? Ideal clients should be profiled all the way down to what they do for fun. Marketing activities can then be honed to reach them in multiple ways.

Focused Messaging

Fine tuning a marketing plan requires figuring out what three or four core things audiences need to know about the company to motivate action. Different messages will appeal to different audiences; the challenges is to take those three or four core messages and—without contradiction—make each of them appeal to each of key audiences.

With targeted audiences and focused messages in place as keystone pieces of a marketing plan, marketers can map out effective strategies and tactics (e.g., branding, tradeshows, advertising, media relations, social media, web, collateral) that will best reach the identified audiences and best transmit the identified messaging.


Tight budgets are closely monitored. Activity undertaken today needs to quickly bear fruit. Gauging a marketing strategy’s effectiveness requires quantifying current status as a baseline against which future measurements can be compared. The status measured might be audience awareness, sales leads, or even overall company revenue. Assessing progress regularly against the baseline will determine whether the marketing plan is working as it should, and it enables the company quickly correct course when it isn’t. This prevents unnecessary spending and conserves the budget for more effective tactics.

Need help developing your company's marketing strategy? Call FrogDog today!

Posted: Apr 16, 2009
Updated: Oct 11, 2019
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