Marketing in times of crisis

Several of my clients have asked me recently is it even worth continuing with marketing their brands in times of economic and political crisis. I am perpetually surprised to hear this as I have always assumed that marketing is as important to my clients as it is to me. The truth is, many companies place their marketing and communications at the bottom of their priority list regardless of crisis.

Property companies, as with most businesses, are under heavy pressure to sell, they must keep investors happy and get the money rolling in. Marketing is seen as expensive and ROI can be at times foggy. I agree that PR and marketing has a hard job at being completely measurable. Many marketing activities are such a subjective exercise and intuitive communications professionals are always working to enhance and build brand reputation, this is a long-term process and this makes PR a hard sell to companies that want instant results.

So in hard times marketing and PR fall by the wayside when in truth these are the tools that should be revved up and not wound down.

Going against the grain, I have found that my smaller, boutique clients are adamantly plugging away with their marketing. My first signed client, an enigmatic businesswoman, sends a monthly newsletter out highlighting her properties for sale; she also has sent press releases out to chosen media when she has had an interesting angle. I realise that this isn’t rocket science and that many companies already do this, and I don’t want to teach granny how to suck eggs yet she is a one-woman show, with no in-house marketing department but savvy enough to recognise that in order to sell she must build a reputation using media relations and directly communicate with her potential consumers by way of electronic direct marketing. 

So back to the beginning, we are talking about the worth of marketing when a country has received so much bad press and the world’s moneybox is near empty. Firstly, everyone in Phuket and the Kingdom should be working towards repairing brand Thailand’s image abroad, the way in which we do this is by continually pushing out positive messages – enter stage left your marketing and PR campaigns and clear crisis communications.
An integral part of crisis communications is damage mitigation and repair, don’t wait for something bad to happen and wipe up the mess – pre-empt it and create responses and action plans to cope with it.  Ignoring a problem in the country we live, invest and work in will not make it simply go away and collectively as business people we will gain no credibility by sticking our heads in the sand. Let us not dwell on the damage, as that’s done, but we must acknowledge what has happened, and when asked by international journalists about the effects of the political situation, answer honestly and move on.

We have a high season and a new year to work towards; we have plenty of work to do. Marketing activities should be planned and executed right now. Phuket should take advantage of the less busy times and plan their sales and marketing initiatives.
I am not saying that marketing business in Thailand is easy or free of charge; it is a tough message to sell at the moment. However we must all be prepared to handle the negatives and threats to our businesses and also try to reassure potential visitors and investors that in Phuket, business continues as usual.