Friday, May 22, 2009

Fear of Negative PR Not the Only Reason for Budget Cuts

An exhibit manager chimed in on a message board recently, to remind us that the perception that shows and events are frivolous or the potential for negative PR exposure are not the only reasons events are cancelled or cut back. "... certainly not because we see the shows as unnecessary, a luxury or some trumped up PR stunt to try and present an image of a socially-conscious corporate citizen - it is simply self-preservation. Significant cuts are necessary to keep many companies in business. The marketing budget is an easy target for quick money - it's a lot harder to carve money out of production if you are already a lean, efficient organization with good strategic sourcing and operations practices in place. It is sad that this has to become politicized. Nothing should be read into the practice of cutting back trade show marketing other than it is simply one of many tools corporations are using to try and get through this recession."

Her response raises the question again, why cut marketing when things are down?

Profit often comes from serving the existing customer base. New revenue is often expensive to obtain and expensive to support, partially answering the question "why do companies cut sales and marketing budgets during an economic downturn?" Leaning out the organization as Karen has indicated and keeping the revenue streams you already have is a common approach.

Many companies are shifting weight to Customer Relationship Management at events in which they continue to participate, aka "putting their arms around their existing customers." Keeping the business you have safe from price attacks by starving competitors, offering solutions to existing customers that help you both mutually deal with the economy, and making sure that you get any additional business that is to be had from your current accounts are productive goals for events in the near term. Scheduled meetings with top accounts, where you offer real support and solutions for weathering the storm are a wise investment of time and resources.

So, if you are still counting leads as a major part of your event measurement, count meetings with high value accounts at least equally in your measure of success.

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