I don’t know if the old saying was ever true that marketing is the first thing to be cut in tough times, but making that argument today seems out of step with the way we live and work.

Marketing is more about dialog, and in many ways, more economical than ever before and I simply can’t see how you can stay in business while communicating less with your customers, prospects and other stakeholders.

Business is slow? In a weak economy, money flows to value. Today, companies need to emphasize their best deals, get closer to clients and prospects, listen to them and show them how they can use their products and services to do better.

In good times, decisions are less scrutinized and people become more complacent about choosing products or services. ‘Oh, I’ll just go with the big boys and no one will question it.’ Customers today are exploring more options, asking more questions and taking longer to make decisions.

How do you survive, much less compete, in that environment without solid marketing and communication? You can’t. You need to be clear and differentiated, to be found, referred and then stay top of mind. You need to market and communicate. It’s not an option.

Are tough decisions necessary? Of course and marketing, like any item on a balance sheet is not going to be spared examination and pressure. However, I question the wisdom of the adage that marketing ‘goes first.’ I’d say it needs some serious rethinking.

In Part 2, we’ll get into some sound and economical things that companies can do to keep up visibility and awareness.

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