Here We Go Again, It's Recession Time 2008

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All Doom and Gloom? US Mobile Marketer SmartReply thinks not.

It's the Fed announcement today and business owners and marketers all over the US wait with baited breath for the news. Will the Fed be cutting interest rates in an effort to stave off recession? Or will the board decide that inflation is the most pressing monetary concern facing the US economy, and raise or maintain the rate to hedge against it? Analysts on Wall Street are betting on the former, but the only real certainty outside of Ben Bernake's brain is the fact that the national economic climate is fragile at best, and business operations are in for a challenging time ahead.

While businesses often respond to these challenges by trimming budgets and going leaner, the fiscal imperative to grow becomes even more acute during a slowdown, setting up a seemingly insurmountable catch-22 scenario. On the one hand, businesses are tightening their purse strings as expenses go under the microscope, and on the other hand, they need to remain highly visible, relevant and connected with their customers.

SmartReply, a national leader in voice and mobile marketing solutions for more than 200 major US retailers and corporations, offers a way around the recession marketing budget blues with personalized solutions, offering expert advice and a full panel of services designed to stretch any organization's marketing budget further, for less.

The key to sustaining growth in lean times is to develop stronger customer relationships through effective communication. SmartReply focuses on creating customer trust and promoting accessibility with its voice and mobile marketing platforms that puts brands directly in the hands of their customers. In a recession, existing customers are the engine of growth, and forging a bond with them becomes an operational imperative for any business concerned about the potential impact of a slowdown, or recession.

For marketers, who make their living on effectiveness and in bullish times, efficacy is both the yardstick and watchword as initiatives are defined by ROI, and assessed by impact on the brand, sales and bottom-line results. And during an economic downturn, when many marketing budgets contract and revenue creation takes heightened precedence, effectiveness becomes more important than ever with every cent in the budget under question. Profit warnings follow dim industry forecasts. Labor and production costs are often the last resort for constriction, and so marketing and advertising come under closer scrutiny. The potential loss of customer service and consumer confidence can be by-products of broad cost-cutting measures, so the question becomes: how can a marketer do more with less? How can the sales and marketing teams continue to be most effective with fewer resources?

Making individual connections is one solution to these business dilemmas, and while there is no magic bullet for engaging consumers in recession times (or any other times, for that matter), there are some business and marketing practices that just make better sense. And cents. Eclipsing the gulf that traditional marketing has opened between brand and consumer is the key to aligning limited budgets with increased sales, especially at a time when consumers demand more choice and personalization than ever before. This can be done with immediate, innovative and personal contact designed to increase brand loyalty. Currently, SmartReply is working with companies across the US and Canada, focusing on how businesses can get the most marketing bang for their buck, by utilizing innovative and cost-effective voice and mobile marketing solutions. Take a quick quiz to find if you know how and where to best spend marketing dollars in today's economic climate;

1. Wall Street analysts predict a further 20% downturn in consumer spending for the coming year. Do you;

a)     Cut your staff by 20%?
b)     Cut your marketing budget by 20%?
c)     Revisit your marketing strategy to identify new/more effective ways to communicate with your audience, with the aim of at least maintaining current sales?

2. You decide to reduce your marketing department by more than 50%, hoping that you can still execute effective campaigns. Do you;

a)     Use the same ads/campaigns that you have run for the previous three years, hoping consumers won't notice?
b)     Find a new and cost-efficient marketing solution that delivers fast ROI, and that immediately connects with consumers?
c)     Cross your fingers?

3. First quarter sales are down. The board is getting antsy and you need to produce results - now. Do you;
a)     Implement a targeted and personalized campaign that delivers a relevant message to every one of your existing customers, with no lead-in time and immediate results?
b)     Introduce massive discounts across all lines, in an effort to stimulate sales?
c)     Launch a traditional mass media campaign, advertising special offers in the hope of immediate results?

4. Surviving a recession isn't only about cutting costs, it's about using money efficiently. But convincing bottom-line oriented, non-marketing execs to maintain branding efforts is a challenge. Do you;
a)     Rescind your position and abort all marketing campaigns for the time being?
b)     Convince your board that consumers don't "go away" during a recession; they just grow more careful thereby creating an opportunity for to you to encourage brand switching with the right messages and delivery?
c)     Put the CFO in charge of marketing duties?

5. Numerous surveys have revealed that cuts in marketing during a recession have a cumulative negative impact on the long-term value of a brand. Do you;

a)     Ignore the advice and try to weather the storm regardless?
b)     Introduce new media and channels to reach today's "choice generation" of consumer?
c)     Adopt the same marketing tactics as your competitor?

6. "You can't manage what you can't measure" is a marketing phrase that rings very true, especially during a period of belt-tightening. How does your current marketing strategy in that regard?

a)     You prefer the "spray and pray" approach.
b)     You would like to implement more measurable media and marketing programs as soon as possible.
c)     It's too hard to measure.

To find out how more about SmartReply's recession-proof marketing ideas, please visit http://www.smartreply.com or contact media representative Vanessa Horwell at +1.305.776.7716 or Vanessa @ thinkinkpr.com.

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VANESSA HORWELL
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