Marketing in Turbulent Times: Don't Give Up the Ship

Real Estate Agent with Na Pali Properties, Inc.

These May Be Turbulent Times, But Don't Give Up the Ship

In addition to being a Realtor-Associate on Kauai, I have operated a business as a freelance copywriter for close to 20 years. In June, wearing my "copywriter/marketing" hat, I presented a seminar on ways for small businesses to market themselves during turbulent times.

Because, when times get tough, as they are today, many companies begin cutting back. Sometimes they let employees go and stop there. Other times, they eliminate their marketing. "A bad move," said Colorado communications pro Stacy Cornay. "The public has to be reminded about who you are and what you're selling . . . Instead of cutting back on marketing, be more aggressive."

Public relations professional John Shors wrote, "When companies cease touting themselves via the media, opportunities are created for their competitors to step into the spotlight. . . "

Staying in front of your customers and prospects is vital - even in a recession. And, "no matter how the White House tries to spin it, our economy is on the brink of a recession," commented Anthony Pappas, CEO of the Pappas Group.

I started my freelance writing business in 1989, when times were also tough. The reason I went out on my own was because people were getting laid off at all the agencies I approached. I was caught in the Colorado recession and repeatedly heard, "Sorry, we're not hiring.  We're laying people off right now, but if you start a business as a freelancer, we'll retain your services."

So I took this as a "sign from above" - it was my opportunity to grab the bull by the horns and start my own business. The Write Direction was born on January 1, 1989.

Despite lean economic times, I was able to break ground . . . make an impact . . . find clients . . . establish a successful business. It happened because of a concerted effort to market myself and keep marketing.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - Calvin Coolidge

Don't give up the ship. You can do the same without breaking the bank. Pick up the phone, write a trade article, fax the press about an accomplishment, send out an e-mail, etc.

During uncertain times, when people are not spending, marketers should consider investing further in their marketing instead of waiting for a change in market conditions. This tactic is supported by the following findings revealed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) - reported in a commissioned  study "Advertising in a Recession" by Bernard Ryan Jr.

1. The Buchen Advertising study tracked sales after the 1949, 54, 58 and 61 recessions. It found that sales & profits dropped off at companies that cut back on advertising. And, the findings also revealed that sales lagged after the recession for those companies that cut back during the recession.

2. The 1970 and 1979 studies by ABP/Meldrum & Fewsmith substantiated the Buchen study. It reported that higher sales and net income were achieved by those companies that maintained their advertising than those that cut it altogether.

3. Following the 1981-82 recession, McGraw-Hill Research's Laboratory of Advertising Performance reported that "business-to-business firms that maintained or increased their advertising expenditures during the 1981-82 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth both during the recession and for the following 3 years than those which eliminated or decreased advertising."           

"It might even be tempting to ‘ride it out' - to do nothing until things turn around. This passive approach yields passive results. Nothing will happen while you're waiting and when things do turn around, the business will go to the people who've been doing something all along. The people who will get the lion's share of the business - both now and in the future - are the ones who work to build relationships," said Michael Beck,   

Yes, it's frightening to dip into your budget to keep on spending when the economy is slow, but to stay ahead of your competition, it should be a priority for your company. And, it can be done, without spending $2 million dollars for a Super Bowl commercial.

·    Don't let people forget who you are . . . where you are . . . how you can be reached.

·    Do what you can to maintain a presence.

·    Stay in touch with your customers, be it via phone, "snail," or e-mail.

·    Ask them what they want and need during this time.

And remember, whether you're a Realtor or not, if potential customers are out there looking for your product or service and your name is visible, when your competition's is not, your marketing efforts will invite them to call you.

After including this article in my latest newsletter, "The Copy Cat" as well as having it published elsewhere, several readers wrote in to thank me for sharing the information. Hope you find it valuable too.

Good luck

Debra A. Jason, RA

(808) 826 1846 or (808) 635 8031

Vision Realty All Islands Kauai - located on the highway in Hanalei, Kapaa, and Lihue

Beck, Michael. "Effective Marketing Strategies in a Weak Economy.", April 4, 2008.
Cornay, Stacy. "Don't be misled by economic 'What-ifs.'" Daily Times Call, Nov. 4, 2001.
Shors, John. "Think twice about cutting PR campaign in recession." Boulder County Business Report, Jan. 11-24, 2002


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Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Debra~  You are so right, more marketing is actually needed in turbulent times!  The challenge is to spend the money as well as the time needed to keep a presence!

Oct 28, 2008 11:58 AM #1
Debra A. Jason
Na Pali Properties, Inc. - Hanalei, HI
Kauai Realtor - Kauai Homes For Sale, Kapaa to Haena

Thanks Vickie. In presenting my seminar on the topic, I do offer participants cost-effective ways on how to go about marketing themselves. As I suggest, you don't have to spend a fortune, but it is important to keep your name out there.

It's been uplifting to get feedback from people who read the article. After publishing it in my quarterly newsletter (via my freelance writing business), I got this feedback:

"Debra, I would like to thank you for the wealth of information that you send me. The most recent one [The Copy Cat newsletter] was just what I needed to really encourage me to keep moving forward and not let problems, issues, economic woes depress me. There is a light, keep moving forward." -- D.Swain, Catamaran Kahanu, Kauai, HI

Another reader wrote:

"I just finished reading the latest issue of "The Copy Cat." It is great! Timely, insightful, upbeat - great information.  Thank you so much. You hit the nail on the head!" --J. Meyer, The Group Inc., Ft. Collins, CO

Thanks for taking the time to offer your comments as well.

Have a great day.

Debra A. Jason, RA, ABR
When paradise is calling you, call me!

Vision Realty All Islands Kauai - on the highway in Hanalei, Kapaa & Lihue

(808) 826 1846 cell: (808) 635 8031

Oct 28, 2008 12:38 PM #2
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Debra, great reminder!  Thanks for sharing it.  It is a timely piece of advice to keep on doing what we're doing during the good time, we should keep doing it now.

Oct 28, 2008 01:28 PM #3
Debra Jason

Aloha Tsufit,

Your book sounds interesting. I'll check out your Web site. In addition, you might want to visit The How-To Catalog. It's a collection of marketing reports designed to help you take advantage of the power of the written word and more. Each 7-9 page paper provides you with valuable information in the form of easy-to-follow guidelines. You'll find it at


Debra A. Jason, RA, ABR

Vision Realty All Islands Kauai

Oct 28, 2008 06:20 PM #4
Chris Rooker
Kline May Realty - Harrisonburg, VA

This is very helpful information. Thank you for sharing, and giving us a "pep talk!" We are now starting to climb out of the recession, but I think this applies regardless of the state of the economy.

Nov 30, 2009 02:16 AM #5
Debra A. Jason
Na Pali Properties, Inc. - Hanalei, HI
Kauai Realtor - Kauai Homes For Sale, Kapaa to Haena

Aloha Chris,

Yes the tips do apply year round. I'm now working on an article about staying up when everyone seems down & out! Got to keep that optimism flowing.

Have a wonderful holiday season.
Debra A. Jason, RA, ABR
Na Pali Properties, Inc.

Dec 04, 2009 01:34 PM #6
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Debra A. Jason

Kauai Realtor - Kauai Homes For Sale, Kapaa to Haena
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