Taek a break: Now's not the time to cut marketing

2009-03-23 00:00

ONE of the great paradoxes of capitalism is playing itself out as we speak: that of businesses cutting back on their marketing spend at a time when it is needed most.

The context is a tightening economy, a concomitant slowing of available cash and reduced revenues. Confronted by a list of costs, marketing typically is the first led to the guillotine.

If anything, marketing is a popular sacrificial lamb of a management under pressure to be seen to be doing something, anything, to counter prevailing business trends. This rationale also may include a reference to cutting expenses that are not directly related to operational costs, and ticking off a relatively big number on a budget makes for good reading, if poor business sense.

The irony is that marketing is often seen as a necessary, and even unnecessary, evil, and not a critical precursor to a successful business, irrespective of the operation. Without being sidetracked by the various manifestations of marketing, it's worth bearing in mind that businesses with a strong word-of-mouth reputation will survive, and quite possibly thrive, in a recession. The reason? They're not spending any less on their marketing!

The same unfortunately cannot be said for businesses that rely on advertising, promoting or generally needing to be in the front lobe of the public's brain.

In here lies the second irony, in that companies needing to promote themselves also tend to have disproportionate marketing budgets that get the chop when the going gets tough. Little wonder that the going gets tougher for some, while those that continue to market themselves do better in what amounts to an empty arena.

The point is that people still buy things, and not only their daily bread, fuel and other necessities. As was pointed out by American marketing strategist Michele Pariza Wacek, it was the Great Depression that launched the cosmetic industry.

Consensus among business strategists and experts is that the time has come to intensify marketing efforts, and not necessarily concentrate on costs. This may take different forms and may well represent a mix of established and new measures.

This would extend to a greater marketing nous, for example, by drawing on the expertise of friends or one's networks, but not necessarily network marketing.

More importantly, develop a hunger for marketing that will help you sniff out promotional opportunities in places others don't even know exist. And don't be scared to knock on doors you don't know; you just don't know who may open them.

Lunching by weight

THE last time I bought anything by weight was a pile of second-hand magazines from a shop in the Berea Centre in Durban. This allowed me to pay for a collection of stunning overseas magazines of my choice at a price greatly more affordable; in other words, a product of superlative quality at excellent value.

These thoughts came to mind when Martin Maltby of Essence in Victoria Road suggested we join him for a lunch where you pay per plate weight.

Foreign as the concept was to us, we were blown away by it.

Essence serves up delicious fusion fare that includes salads, quiches, health breads, bakes and speciality dishes. Patrons serve themselves a plate and are charged accordingly. In my case, a plate positively brimming with goodness came to R56,45, while a more modest serving was R36,50.

The selection of dishes varies from day to day, and includes perennial favourites and enticing novelties, decided by Courtney Dutton and Robyn Flint, both of whom have been professionally trained at a fusion cooking school in Westville.

"We monitor very carefully what customers like, and use their preferences as a basis for our daily selection," said Dutton.

Flint said the by-weight method minimises the pressure on the lunchtime shift.

The relaxed ambience one Friday noon certainly suggested a happy clientele that, judging by our meals, has plenty to smile about.

Hard-time talk shops

THE plight of the provincial economy will come under scrutiny during a series of sectoral workshops in Durban and Pietermaritzburg aimed at assisting businesses to cope with difficult times.

Organised under the auspices of the Department of Economic Development, the workshops will be conducted by high-level experts and feature discussions about possible interventions to stimulate the economy.

Starting tomorrow, the capital equipment, metals, minerals and beneficiation sector will be discussed at the Suncoast Casino, followed by the rail, transport and logistic sector on Wednesday (Royal Hotel in Durban), chemicals and plastics on Friday at the Southern Sun Garden Court on the Marine Parade, automotive next Monday at the Royal Hotel in Durban, tradable services (Royal Hotel in Durban) on Tuesday, and finally, timber, forestry and wood on April 2 at Redlands Hotel in Pietermaritzburg.

Anyone involved in these sectors is welcome and should contact mngomam@kznded.gov.za or Sibusiso Gumede at 033 264 2725 or gumedes@kznded.gov.za.

Benefit of history

LET it not be said that the Old Prison doesn't take history seriously.

On Wednesday, the people running the city's latest historical attraction will host a teachers' day, the second one this year. The aim of the visit is to inform teachers about the educational tour through the prison.

The greater objective is of course to motivate teachers to organise for their pupils to visit the Old Prison and understand its hugely undervalued role in the history of the city and indeed South Africa.

For more information, contact 033 845 0400, or sibiyas@projectgateway.co.za The website is www.projectgateway.co.za

Last word

THE difference between try and triumph is a little umph. - Author unknown.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.