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Marketing: Investment or Expense?

Posted 14 Sep 2020
Marketing: Investment or Expense

When assessing the difference between an expense and an investment I think the perspective taken is the key to not only surviving but thriving during this or any economic period

Some business owners don’t need an economic downturn to have an “expense only” mind-set which I feel is one of the biggest downfalls of businesses in general. If most things are viewed as an expense, then decisions are based on survival rather than growth model. Those focusing on surviving can be sabotaging their ability to make sound, long term decisions that will grow and nourish their business

During my thirty years in the promotional products industry I’ve learnt (sometimes the hard way) there are three key areas which need to be viewed as investments rather than expenses:

Image and marketing
Many business owners stop marketing when times are good despite the fact marketing made them busy to start with. They became conditioned to business “flowing in” so marketing appears to be no longer necessary, or they had to concentrate on servicing their commitments so marketing activity was paused. A stop-and-go/wait strategy towards marketing can be a recipe for business difficulties – to maintain growth, marketing must remain an ongoing investment and key component of day to day operations

Training and development
Investing in technical or other skills to improve the abilities of the team distances a business noticeably from its competitors. From advanced sales and negotiating skills, software or equipment training to implementing initiatives for coping with stress, training people should be viewed as a vital ongoing operational investment critical to company growth. Of course, this also makes a business an attractive destination for current and potential employees

Even with its rapidly changing and evolving applications and platforms, technology can be an investment that continuously “pays its way” A business owner ideally should regularly assess how technology can help the business perform more efficiently or allow its people to concentrate on more income-generating aspects of the business. Too often the “expense” of technology overshadows what the technology can do for the business in the long term

Regardless of the economy’s health at any given time, it’s important to continue practising what is known to be essential based on growth strategy. Adopting this perspective frequently cushions against economic “blowback” and I feel this will prove to be true as we face the current and future challenges from COVID-19