There are studies showing that companies that investing in a recession yield significantly higher sales during the recession and after the recovery than those that cut back on marketing. A McGraw-Hill Research report which sampled and studied businesses during the 1981/82 recession found that those that invested in advertising and marketing; averaged higher sales growth during the recession and in the following 3 years, and after 3 years had sales 250% higher than those that cut back on spending. “Nickel wise – Pound foolish” as they say.
In hobbling through the booths at the various venues during CES 2009 a few things were very evident: there was a projected 20% drop in attendance and it felt higher, there were very short cab lines, and promotional marketing budgets were cut dramatically (there was very little extravagant booth entertainment, there was no good chachka, and a dramatic drop rent a models was very noticeable).
When you peeled the onion and looked below the veneer which typically covers the show you found people actually working, having productive meetings and doing business. There was a legion of people that actually consciously spent money and time to be there and were productive. In most years it is normally almost impossible to coordinate a full meeting schedule in advance due to logistics and other distractions. This year I had a 50% increase in productive meetings, in booths, and had quality uninterrupted discussions.
With the reduced swarms it was much easier to see badges and make quick introductions to key executives and buyers walking the booths. From the isles, I actually saw and introduced myself to key buyers at three retailers that I have targeted this year for one of my clients! We were able to have a quick discussion and a reference for a good follow-up post show.
Even in a recession, those that have to do business will do business. Retailers cannot have empty shelves; something needs to be there to be sold. Vendors need to have access to buyers, consumers and media to introduce new products, market existing products to new prospects, and to keep an eye on the competition.
Lessons re-learned from CES 2009: be where your clients have to be, guerilla marketing and sales does work (ie: badge poaching), invest when others flee, and continually promote your products and yourself. Even if no one is buying now, you need to be known “to be a vendor/product of consideration at the time of purchase”.