Lynn prof offers tips on marketing in a recession

“Organizations should avoid ‘kneejerk’ reactions if they hope to have a successful business in the post-recession era,” said Green

Published Jan. 21, 2009

During a recession, businesses often layoff employees, undergo revenue declines and reduce line items for marketing promotions. However, according to Robert Green, a professor of marketing in Lynn’s College of Business and Management, organizations should think twice about their decisions – and avoid “kneejerk” reactions – if they hope to have a successful business in the post-recession era.

“During the last 14 months, the world economy has been in an economic recession with such magnitude that has not been experienced in the United States since the 1930s,” said Green. “As a result, organizations – business and not-for-profit – tend to take ‘kneejerk’ reactions in which there are long-term, negative implications. This should be a time to think, and re-think its vision, mission and purpose that leads to certain strategies for a more successful organization in the post-recession era.”

Green outlined what he considers the top three strategies for marketing in a recession: reducing the number of employees can create an opportunity for greater leadership and collaboration within the organization; a decline in revenue should encourage businesses to evaluate their product portfolio and develop a strong, exciting brand message; and although it’s easy to cut costs of line items for promotions, businesses should continue with their advertising and marketing research efforts as effective marketing communications will position products to be even more successful in competitive markets for the post-recession era.

For example, “most firms will reduce the number of employees and require those remaining to take on additional responsibilities,” said Green. “This provides an opportunity for leadership to tear down functional ‘silos’ and create greater collaboration in the organization.” In addition, “businesses will experience revenue decline due to not having a strong product portfolio and brand offerings. Research shows that brands with high value as perceived by consumers withstand price wars and recessions better than competitors.” According to Green, “Now is the time to evaluate the value – consumers’ view of benefits, excitement, etc. – and plan new/different brand strategies.”

Finally, “organizations should not ignore the power of effective marketing communications. Line items for promotions, e.g., advertising, and market research are usually greatly reduced in recessions, but this is not the time or place for such cost reducing actions,” noted Green. “The advertising budget should be maintained (at least to retain current customers) but also evaluated. Such an evaluation might lead to determining a direct mail program, e.g., paper and electronic mail, being more effective, targeted and less costly. Furthermore, consumers’ intention to purchase is currently at an extremely low level. This is an opportunity to get ‘real’ responses from marketing research.  Consumers will likely be more honest (actual self), revealing their needs rather than their wants.”

Green and associate professor of international business, Farideh Farazmand, are currently teaching a January term (J Term) course – “New Product Success” where students are learning these strategies – and putting them to use.  Students enrolled in the course are creating a new (innovative) product, interviewing potential consumers and possible retailers/sellers and presenting critical analysis of their results to local businessmen. “These students, as any student in the world today, are living in a recession,” said Green, “but the students taking ‘New Product Success’ are experiencing it in a new product recessionary business environment.”

Source: Green, a former executive for a large, international family-owned corporation for over 25 years, is an expert on marketing and branding strategies. He is currently a professor of marketing strategy, consumer behavior, branding and business marketing in Lynn’s College of Business & Management. In 2008, he won the Outstanding Research Paper Award at a global conference for his paper “The Marketing Mix and Branding: A Review of Consumer Product Marketing.” In this role, Green, who has published and presented over 50 manuscripts in the United States, Europe, and Asia, regularly speaks to the media regarding marketing strategies during a recession, international marketing, gender influences on brand equity, co-branding approaches and as a successor of a large family business, Green offers an interesting perspective on issues surrounding succession in the family business.