Having weathered the economic storm of 2008/2009, the Australian marine industry is faring much better compared with those in other parts of the world.

While almost every marine business in Australia took a direct hit, boat shows in the second half of 2009 delivered solid sales and in the lead-up to Christmas many manufacturers were ramping up production to meet market demand.

As we enter 2010, consumer confidence is continuing to build, which is a great sign for the industry’s recovery. While the outlook for most marine businesses is certainly much brighter than last year, there are some companies that are set to surge well ahead of their competitors – due in large part to their unwavering focus on brand promotion.

Although the knee-jerk reaction among the majority of businesses when faced with a rough economic forecast is to batten down the hatches and slash marketing budgets, for other businesses such conditions are the trigger to direct even stronger focus on their promotional activities.

Several years ago, McGraw Hill did a study which found those businesses that boosted their public relations, advertising and other marketing activities during a recession grew 275 per cent over the proceeding five years. In contrast, those businesses that cut back – if they were still in business – grew just 19 per cent.

Striking statistics. No offence to those who did cut back in this area over the past 12 to 18 months, however, the study proves the worst business decision you can make, particularly in tough times, is to cut back your marketing efforts.

Moving forward

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I’m sure most of us would do at least one thing differently if we could have our time again! Unless you have Doc Brown’s DeLorean in the driveway, there’s no going back – so now is the time to implement changes that will determine your business’ future.

If, according to the abovementioned study, your business is among those staring at comparatively minimal growth over the next few years, acting immediately could change that. Better late than never, one of the most beneficial changes you could make right now is to increase your promotional efforts.

When many business owners think about “promotion” (or other similar terms) they immediately think it will cost them a fortune, but that’s not necessarily the case.

At the end of the day, what price can be put on an investment that delivers such significant and lasting value that will actually grow a business?

Through this column over the next 12 months, we plan to cover a whole range of marketing topics which you may consider incorporating into your business (We’ve included a few DIY promotional tips in the fact box below to get you started).

Beginning with the basics, we’ll discuss the importance of public relations, graphic design, advertising, event management and other communications-related topics, in an attempt to provide an insight into some of the factors that will prove essential to your business’ success.

Whether you’re involved in a family-owned and run retail venture or a behemoth multinational, branding and communications should be at the heart of every business.

As owner’s of the world’s leading companies all attest: “success in business is 80 per cent promotion”.

Sandman Public Relations is a full-service media agency recognised for its integrity, professionalism and success.

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