Businesses are constantly faced with the highs and lows of consumer demand. Especially small businesses. One minute the game is on and you are struggling to keep up with demand, considering hiring more staff, outsourcing, and basking in the glory of success. The next minute the winter sets in. Things go a little quiet. And the anxiety creeps in…

This is especially true for businesses where seasonality plays a huge part in dictating demand. For example, the travel industry, cafes/restaurants, entertainment industries, and so on. However, human nature is cyclical and highly influenced by a myriad of factors including trends, seasons, politics, economics, and now mass word of mouth marketing via digital channels. High and low periods for web based businesses can now be just as prevalent in the annual gross revenue as for their bricks and mortar counterparts.

Standing strong in a storm is never easy. Staying true to a vision when everyone around you is taking detours is a massive undertaking.

When the phone stops ringing, the common behaviour I have observed is: Panic.

All rationality goes out the window, an emergency meeting is called and the band aids come out. “How do we quickly fix this problem to get people back through the doors again?” Or in the case of web based business – “people down through the funnel fast to a sale? In fact, let’s just throw the funnel out the window altogether…”

Reactive Marketing – What is it?

Reactive marketing is usually the result of marketing done in a panic. Rarely has it been worked into a solid business strategy. It comes out of nowhere as a short term fix to get things moving again.

Cambridge Dictionary defines it as:

“marketing that is done as a reaction to a particular situation, or to what your competitors are doing”

Reactive marketing usually includes:

  • Massive sales, discounts
  • Large amounts of money thrown into ineffective marketing ideas – usually with no consideration for ROI
  • Loss of focus on the long term vision and strategy which results in a compromised brand
  • Massive criticism of marketing strategies that have a long term focus and aim to build brand reputation

And the overall expectation from managers, business owners and marketing professionals who go down this road is that this short term fix is going to kick start the business back into action again.

Let me stop you right there and let you think on this for a minute….

Marketing should never be used as a short term fix for a long term problem.

Just like when our bodies have an internal disease and exhibit external symptoms, so too a business that is throwing up issues like loss of momentum in sales, lowered customer interactions and decreasing yearly profits, has an internal problem that needs to be treated and resolved.

Why it rarely works:

Fixing a leaky hole with band aids may seem like a good idea at the time but majority of the time it is devastating to your overall business success and the water will eventually start pouring out again. Here’s why:

  1. It ruins your brand image – massive discounting and shock marketing tactics make you look desperate and subconsciously tells the world that your business is faltering (therefore not worth their time and money) or can’t keep up with the competition (who they will then turn to).
  2. It leads to consumer confusion about who you are and what you do. Especially when it comes to your price and the quality of your product.
  3. Even if it does work in the short term, it locks your business into this pattern for future low seasons and your customers will come to expect it. A classic example of this is the Stay 7 / Pay 5 discounting that is so common in the accommodation industries. Owners find that they can never get full rates after falling prey to this kind of marketing.
  4. It doesn’t solve the main issue which has caused the slump and the reaction in the first place. Perhaps your business is seasonal but you are not budgeting correctly or making the most of the highs to get you through the lows?

A solution

There is no magic pill to fix a leaky hole in your business. Good planning, honest appraisals, solid financial plans/budgets and the ability to pivot when necessary are all factors to consider for longevity.

When it comes to marketing your business, a long term strategy should be your focus. Built into this can be short term tactics that can stimulate growth as long as they align with the long term vision. In fact, having short term tactics with clear goals and measurable targets and then assessing them at the end of each period will help you make necessary adjustments along the way to achieve greater success.

Before you panic and throw caution to the wind in reckless activity, take a step back and assess your business objectively. It might just be the defining moment for you personally and for the survival of your company.

Feel free to drop me a line if you want to chat about long term solutions for your business.

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