Writing on the topic of worker safety in this column a few issues back I casually mentioned that cutting back on marketing efforts in tough times is a bit like tossing out the clock to save time. While I certainly cannot take credit for coming up with this bit of wisdom, I do buy into it.
We remain in a time of great change. In my view, change is always and everywhere. Change is always a factor in business. Change never sleeps. With change you get both the most pain and the greatest opportunities in business. I view marketing in the same light.
So long as you operate your roof contracting business you should always be in the business of marketing it. Logically, looking at marketing as a way of making an image or attracting leads, you would spend more when you seek more business than when you are busy. For many entrepreneurs and even Fortune 500 companies, the tendency is to take the “budget” approach and spend more when there is more available to spend (like when you have plenty of work and arguably a diminished business need for marketing).
Since I am being openly critical of the way many of you operate, I will share one of my strengths and weaknesses as a businessperson with you. I am always taking the long view (which is at times a strength and other times a weakness). As my good friend and Roofing Contractor contributing editor, Shawn Holiday, has said to me, “You are always looking for the endgame.” That is not so good when the kettle is on fire, but my belief is great planning prevents a lot of that sort of thing from happening in the first place.
For many in the roofing industry, the analogy of the kettle being on fire is not so far off base in terms of this economy. The business climate is changing so rapidly that the idea of long-term planning may not make such good sense. But I cannot help myself. If this column does you no good for today, rip it out (or bookmark it) and put it away for a time when you are compelled to plan for the future.
If you believe that marketing is something you must undertake to ensure the sustainability of your enterprise, the dollars you have set aside for marketing must be considered sacred. If you believe your marketing efforts work to build your brand and are an effective part of your overall efforts to bring in business, then cutting back on those efforts would be far from intuitive when sales begin to slow.
Expressions such as, “You can’t get blood out of a turnip” come to mind about this time. While I realize there are some great and very inexpensive ways to market your enterprise, I am going to suggest that long-term planning is ultimately the solution.
Look at it this way: Our business is cyclical. Some cycles are less dramatic than the one we are in now, but our business is always cyclical. How to you plan to spend money when the market dips if you do not have a business strategy that demands you keep a war chest set aside for the times when cash flow will not take care of marketing expenses?
Make a plan. Start today. Next time your business heads south you will probably be the only roofing contractor operating in your space with the horsepower to put a marketing program forward.