Warning for HPC companies: don't stop marketing in a down economy

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Mike Bernhardt has posted an insightful article on his communication company’s website about the risks to companies of cutting marketing budgets in a down economy

Product development, sales and customer support, are typically regarded as absolutely critical to ongoing viability, but as budgets are trimmed back farther and farther, marketing often slips below the approved expense line. The conventional wisdom is that cutting out marketing won’t threaten survival.

But this is bad wisdom. In fact, HPC companies that cut marketing to the bone during this difficult economic climate run a severe risk of communicating a fatal message: that the company is dying. If you stop reaching out to existing customers, prospects, investors and employees – the four key audiences targeted by marketing – any of them might assume your company is CTD (circling the drain).

It’s true enough that Mike is a marketing guy, and some of his article could be viewed as self-serving, except that he’s also right.

As Mike points out this kind of cutback frequently manifests in a very stale “News” section of the website. When I’m researching a company for a story and I find a company that hasn’t had any news to release to the community in the past two months — and I’ve seen companies with news releases once a year, all clustered around SCxy — then I think “not much happening here.”

Mike’s article goes on to suggest some helpful tips for ways that you can increase awareness of your HPC company, and keep yourself in front of customers even if you don’t have a lot of budget

This isn’t to say marketing can’t or shouldn’t be reduced. In fact, cutting costs is unavoidable. But in taking that step, marketing execs need to spend their limited budgets smarter. And with new Web-based technology widely available, you can operate with significantly reduced budgets while also developing new and more effective marketing tactics. For smart marketers, economic necessity can be the mother of invention and innovation.

Suggestions I like? Twitter, email, and engaging your company’s talents (either high visibility officers or genius technical folks) on blogs

…At the same time, you should work with sales to leverage outreach via social media. Compile customer email rosters and send them direct email of each company press release, and more informal updates from management. Execs can start blogging more frequently and develop a following with various social media outlets.

If you are in a small company in the HPC space right now, do yourself a favor and read the article. It’s worth your time for the case study alone.