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How to Position Your Business in a Recession May 29, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, marketing, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!.
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David DirksIf you want some great examples of marketing into the headwinds of a recession, look no further than the states of Michigan and Texas.  Michigan, a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country because of a devastating hit in the car industry which is still unraveling as we speak, is marketing itself with gusto.  Have you seen the TV ads touting Michigan as a place to expand your business?  Or the full page ads in leading business publications like Inc. magazine?  I have and I’m impressed.

Texas is undertaking the same type of marketing campaign to spur economic development in the state.  So, while the world seems to be reeling from the brink of a complete economic meltdown (it isn’t over yet), these two states are spending some serious coin promoting their economic development opportunities.  Are they crazy?  Yes, crazy like a fox as the saying goes.

If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know that my strategy is to maintain a marketing investment in your business no matter what the economic times.  What Michigan and Texas are doing is taking advantage of the fact that they are about the only two states that are investing in marketing at this time.  This at at time when both states are facing major budget deficits.   The investment that these two states are making is an investment into their future.  Here’s what will happen.  When the economy eventually returns to the positive, Michigan and Texas will be what we call ‘top of mind’ in the minds of businesses who are looking to expand their facilities and operations.  They are literally planting seeds of future economic development in their states when everyone else is holding back.

Planting seeds of future business through a consistent marketing investment is much like a farmer planting seeds for his next crop.  After planting the seed, nothing much seems to be happening on the surface.  Days will go by and you won’t see anything coming up through the soil after the seeds have been planted.  Does the farmer worry?  Nope.  The farmer knows that underneath, where the naked eye cannot see, the seeds are germinating and beginning to expand.  Soon, when the time is right, the seeds transform into plants.  In time, these plants produce the material which can be harvested.

The same goes for what Michigan and Texas are doing now with their marketing campaigns.  They are planting the seeds of their own future success and, like the farmer, are doing so because they know that they know the seeds will eventually produce a fruitful harvest.  In the meantime, most other states are holding back on the planting of any seed and not able to look beyond today’s dire budget crisis.

My own state if New York, with its own budget crisis, has taken the other road and has disappeared from the economic development map.  They’ve even cut back on the amount of personnel focused on growing its business base in the state.  On the surface, it looks like New York has no choice but to cut its own marketing investment in economic development because of a huge budget deficit.  What will really happen is that yes, the state will save a few bucks today but pay a larger price in the future when the economy starts to roar back (I’m an eternal optimist!).  New York state will be trying to play catch up but will find itself behind the curve and behind states like Michigan and Texas in terms of attracting businesses to their states.

Michigan and Texas do what the Big Dogz of top performing companies do as a routine: they invest in themselves regardless of what the economy is doing knowing they will reap a larger reward in the near future.  It’s a lesson that all other states should heed.

PS:  Another thing about Michigan and its current marketing campaign.  They use actual success stories in their ads to validate their positioning that Michigan really gives businesses “the upper hand”.   That’s another feather in their cap.

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