The following post is written by guest blogger Per Ohstrom
In the business cycle, there comes a time that looks something like this: Sales are down across segments and products. Certain product lines perform worse than others, but there is some softness across the board. Budgets have been revised and Board expectations reset, but the business still does not meet targets.
It is clear to the general manager that something more has to be done.
Finance asks for cost reductions, usually starting with a hiring freeze, then cutbacks in travel, advertising, training and other “discretionary” spending. Later there will be talk about headcount reductions.
Sales wants to lower prices and give deeper discounts and will have plenty of stories about business lost to Competitor X or under threat from Competitor Y, who are more aggressive with their pricing.
Caught in this squeeze between Sales and Finance, oftentimes the executive gives in. Investments in market communication don't happen and visits to customers and industry events are cut. Greater discounts are offered, triggering destructive price wars while eroding profitability. Soon the troubles reach crisis proportions and the layoffs start. The first ones are in unprofitable branches or businesses, followed by marketing and HR and then across the board. Within a few weeks a poor bench strength can be made much worse. Is there another way?
Yes. A solid marketing and pricing program can have a powerful impact, and at the same time, lay a foundation for rapid gains when the economic conditions do improve.
Here are 5 ways to put the marketing team to work, rather than out of work:
Per Ohstrom thinks and writes about service marketing, strategy, leadership and international business. Per is also a retired Swedish Army officer (40 below, ten feet of snow, anyone?) Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org, and read his blog at perohstrom.com