It’s Always Time to Market
by Chad Rueffert

Complacency is a killer in the business world.  Once a company gets busy enough to be profitable they stop doing the things that made them that way, and eventually a sharper, hungrier competitor will come in and knock them off the top rung of the ladder.

It is always time to market, especially when times are good.  You should market before the competition comes to town.  You should market before business slows down.  You should market when you’re so busy you can’t even take on another customer.  For the long-term success of your business you should be marketing constantly and consistently.  You can change your strategies to address business cycles or competitive situations, but never, ever stop marketing.  Marketing is like driving a car.  There are times when you should be going full throttle, and times when you coast.  But as soon as you stop the car, the rest of the world will go zipping right past you.

There are several key reasons why marketing is especially important, even when you’re as busy as you want to be.

Increase profit margins
Having more customers than you can handle allows you the luxury of raising prices.  The customers who like working with you and appreciate the value of your product or service will accept a price increase.  You will lose some of the most price conscious customers, but in the end, you’ll be doing the same amount of work for more profit.

Replace lost customers
No matter what you do, every year you will lose customers.  Most industries average about a 20% turnover every year.  It may have absolutely nothing to do with your company.  Customers go out of business, or relocate or change management.  If you don’t have a pool of prospective customers lined up, you’ll gradually grow smaller just through attrition. Waiting to market until after you’ve lost a customer means a longer period of time that your company is not operating at full capacity.

Choose whom you do business with
Many companies hang on to bad customers who demand unrealistic timelines or are slow to pay bills simply because they don’t have another customer to replace them with.  Use your marketing to find better customers, and let your competitors deal with the headaches that you cut loose.

Prevent up and down cycles
Consistent marketing helps to smooth out seasonal and other cyclical ups and downs in your cash flow by bringing a constant flow of prospective customers to your door.  Marketing only when sales are slow, and then stopping when things get busy ensures that you will have a series of peaks and valleys on your income charts.

Pre-empt the competition
Even in the best case scenario, from the time you make a decision to start an advertising or marketing campaign, it will be 30 (and more likely 60) days before your customers will be exposed to your message.  When a new competitor comes to town, or offers a huge sale, or begins a marketing campaign that inaccurately positions your company, are you willing to wait two months to respond?  Consistent marketing allows you to control your “share of voice” in the market so that your competition can never drown you out.

Keep in-touch with the changing marketplace
One positive benefit of continual marketing is that you are constantly talking to your prospects and therefore constantly getting feedback.  You should always be talking to people who are NOT your customers so you can understand why they are using the competition.  It’s almost like having a spy in your competitors sales meetings when you can get a non-customer to tell you why they chose someone else.

Create a long-term brand image
Consumers have very short-term memory.  That’s why such huge companies as Coca-Cola and Pepsi and Budweiser and Coors market constantly.  When you stop talking to your prospective customers, they forget you even exist.  Then, when you need to grow or replace lost customers, you have to re-establish yourself with the customer.  To build a long-term brand image, you must consistently support and defend that image, otherwise it’s like being a start-up business every time you go out to get a new customer.  This is called “Brand Equity.”  Consistent marketing is like money in the bank.  It earns interest and compounds over time.  

Grow your business
The most obvious reason to market even when you are busy is to grow.  It’s far better to have customers lined up prior to increasing your capacity than to invest in capital improvements and then be unable to find enough customers to reach the new, higher capacity.  

Marketing is an every day necessity, not just something you do when times are slow.  You don’t fill up your gas tank after you run out, unless you want a long walk to the gas station.  You keep it full when you have a long way to go, you might let it run low when you’re not using the car much.  But never let that needle hit empty, or you might just find your car was stolen before you could get back from the gas station.