Promote your business to gain ground during challenging times

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Even smart businesspeople might lose focus when it comes to promoting their business in a down economy, treating promotional efforts as a “non essential” expenditure of time and money.

This is a mistake, because there is no better time to pursue smart promotional opportunities than during tough times to gain ground on those who pull back. This puts you at an advantage when the good times return.

Making people aware of who you are and what you offer on an ongoing basis helps you gain and retain a marketing advantage. The best time to ramp up your visibility is when competitors are scaling back their efforts. They create a vacuum, which means less competition for those who take a proactive approach.


Regardless of economic circumstances, do not neglect your greatest assets, which are your visibility and brand identity. There are things you can do on your own to mount a promotional effort and shore up your market share.

Take care of existing clients. Learn more about their business and how they are doing in the current economy. If you communicate mostly by phone or e-mail, meet in person and ask for feedback on your services.

Determine your ideal client. Figure out an ideal client’s characteristics and tell people in your business network. They may know someone in their network who meets your description.

Offer a value proposition to new and existing customers. While others may slash prices on goods and services, a smart businessperson puts value-added into the equation.

Get out there. This is not the time to become reclusive. Attend networking functions, trade shows and other gatherings where you are likely to add to your business network.

Do something for others. When it comes to a challenging economic climate, we are all in this together. Whether it’s helping another business owner through referrals, sharing your expertise through the Small Business Development Center or SCORE, or doing hands-on volunteer work for those less fortunate — pay it forward. It will come back to you in ways you never imagined.


It’s important to realize that everything you do and say speaks volumes about your business. You and your employees are ambassadors for your products and services.

If you have a storefront, what does it look like? Is it well identified, with an inviting entry and attentive staff who are not too pushy?

If you have a sales or service force that goes out into marketplace on your behalf, what sort of impression do they make?

Is your Web site informative and up to date? Do you give clients and prospects a reason to visit your virtual storefront again and again?

Does your company name, logo and tagline clearly state who you are and what you do?

Is your printed collateral informative and attractive with no spelling errors?

Do you know what is being said about you in the tangible and virtual marketplace?

If you answer no to any or all of these, now is the time to take action and ask for help if necessary. Remember, we are all in this together.

When the going gets tough, the tough get creative.

The media seems to be filled with stories of gloom and locally, businesses are shuttering their doors. But, there are also instances of businesses thriving despite — or because of — a faltering economy. There are positive stories out there; all you have to do is look.

When you read and hear about businesses thriving or at least holding their own, it becomes abundantly clear that those taking proactive steps, such as refreshing their product line, tackling unnecessary costs and simply getting closer to their livelihoods, seem to be weathering the storm. And there remains an undiminished appetite to try out new ideas and take entrepreneurial risks despite current economic conditions.

Rosanne Gain is a partner in Gain-Stovall, Inc., a public relations and government relations firm. She can be reached at

2 Responses to Promote your business to gain ground during challenging times

  1. Rosanne,

    Great stuff!

    I agree totally. I’ve never really understood who so many businesses use an economic slowdown as a reason (or excuse!) to cut back on marketing. As you’ve stated so effectively…that’s exactly the time you should be concentrating on your marketing efforts.

    You’ve done a service for a lot of people with this article, Rosanne. Because you’ve made it very clear that, when your competition cuts back on marketing, that’s when you can achieve a competitive edge.

    If more businesspeople understood the concepts you’ve outlined here, the recession might not have been as bad. And their own businesses would have been better.

    Thanks for making this very cogent point, Rosanne!

    Steve Winston

    Steve Winston
    September 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm

  2. Very timely – and well written piece – Rosanne. PR folks will often bemoan the fact that corporates are scaling back on their marketing investments. That should not be a signal for us to do the same….not least with the upturn already in sight with Japan, France and Germany now officially out of recession.
    This is not the time to be fair-weather service providers.

    Global marketing guru, Phillip Kotler, and Dr. John A. Caslione espoused that same thinking in their latest ‘Chaotics’ book that we helped launch in the UK. Theirs was a warning for Corporates not to start corner-cutting and generating false economies.

    With any luck the two communities – PR and enterprise – will re-focus and deliver renewed value to a challenged marketplace and reinvigorate the environment in which we can all prosper.

    Joanna Lund
    September 5, 2009 at 12:25 pm