When times get tough (or prosperous) for a business, the first thing to go (in most cases) seems to be marketing. Money gets tight, and the business pulls back all “unnecessary” spending, with any and all forms of advertising being the first on the list. The oxymoron in this scenario however is that this is often the time that the business should not stop, but in fact put more effort and resources into their marketing to try to create more work and brand recognition.

I feel it is important to add this disclaimer right here at the start, that every business should obviously be fiscally responsible and that I am not advising any business to throw precious dollars at just any type of advertising in the hopes that will be the saving grace. Quite the contrary. Any and all marketing, and one of its tentacles, advertising, should be done with a plan in place, where every dollar is spent with the goal and expectation of seeing a return. There’s a huge difference between a marketing strategy and an effective marketing strategy. And that differentiating factor can mean all of the difference.

Extreme times

Almost all businesses have had to pivot and endure the great challenges of the last 15 months or so. Right now, it seems that those who made it, have made it. Then there are others who have really thrived during this time. There are certain sectors of business in particular that are simply too busy and as a result, they are turning work away, looking to hire more employees – and are struggling to keep up. And that is a very real problem, too. That is another situation that businesses have found themselves in, and as a result, have also slowed and or stopped marketing and advertising.

At this point you might be asking yourself, “So what? Of course they’d stop, they can’t handle any more work. Furthermore, it’s not a good look to be saying ‘no’ and pushing business away – that will impact their reputation in the long-term, too.” And that is true – but to that I respond with: out of sight, out of mind.

Let’s say that after we reach herd immunity here in the US (hopefully by the end of summer), and our lives begin to return to some form of previous normalcy, including our business lives (when the demand for work shifts), where will the businesses find themselves then? They might find themselves out of sight and out of mind.

For these two reasons, marketing is crucial for a business when things are both slow as well as busy. And don’t think that these reasons are fear-based. They are simply strategy-based. Again, this is where good and effective marketing play a key role.

Not your mother’s marketing strategy

When you think of marketing and advertising, you might be thinking of your (sometimes) boring and typical methods, and sure, they are definitely in the top ten outlets. But when you think of marketing and advertising, are you perhaps also thinking, “What’s the big deal? This isn’t rocket science! You slap some ads together, put it in the local paper; have some business cards mocked up, get them printed on VistaPrint for cheap; and throw up a few social media posts on Facebook and Instgram. Not that hard and anyone can do it.”

That is one approach. But that’s not a plan, necessarily. Herein lies the difference between having a strategy and having the right design in place that is true to your brand and emotes the message and visuals that represent your brand correctly, while appealing to your customers; and further, gets your customers (existing or desired) to act. That is what you want – you want to incite a reaction!

The plan and execution of these things can make all the difference for your business in its time of need. The true and tried methods of marketing can be effective in some cases – sure – and you can certainly get lucky. Sometimes it is definitely better to be lucky than good. Your personal and or business reputation and connections can go a very long way (something that is very much desired for any business). But beyond these factors, to help your business’ chances, strategy and execution can help your business stand out from the competition and can mean the difference between success and failure.

This is of course a multi-faceted thing, but when it comes to helping your business to stand out and be memorable, the important factors that should be at the forefront are: your brand, your message, your visuals. The means for getting them “out there” are varied, and sure, lots of them are the very traditional forms of marketing and advertising (print and online ads, paid boosts, website, Google ads, phone book and yellow pages ads – to name a few).

But to really stand out and be memorable enough to be the first choice that comes to mind, the creative and sometimes out-of-the-box ideas and their execution are what help to make your business be memorable and incite the reaction that you desire. Right now, in this past Covid year, being creative and thinking outside-the-box has meant the difference between success and failure. As we continue to adapt, as things continue to be challenging (in the same or new ways), considering your marketing strategies for today as well as tomorrow should be at the forefront of your business strategy. That strategy and its execution can directly affect how your business will be doing in six, 12, or 18 months from now. How will you make sure that your business stands out from the rest?

Thorunn Kristjansdottir is the owner of this magazine, as well as the owner of Thorunn Designs, LLC., a design and marketing firm.