Did you ever notice how some entrepreneurs treat marketing the way they approach their health? Lots of short-term commitment but very little in terms of long-term results. Comparisons to our personal lives are obvious when it comes to quick fixes:

• Crash diet versus a Weight Watcher approach.
• 90 day gym membership versus a lifetime daily exercise program.
• Disciplined eating versus unconscious food choices.

In addition to the lack of a dedicated marketing plan, many businesses employ “quick fixes” in other managerial areas, including:

• New employee training.
• Written job descriptions.
• Procedure documentation.
• Goal tracking and measuring.

And, especially during tough financial challenges, there’s companies that cut back on the little things, like coffee, only to hear from a disgruntled employee that coffee enables them to work even harder.

So, what does all this have to do with marketing? When economic woes reduce revenues, many of us turn to the expense side of our business for cuts. We look at the obvious journal entries and use our influence in a way that will have immediate impact. In order words, wherever we can, we slash, slash, slash.

Rent Fairly untouchable.
Payroll Obviously a tough one, but only as a last resort.
Office supplies Slash. But no real savings.
Marketing Slash. Looks like some real savings can be realized, and no one is buying anyway.

But in the long term, what are the effects of reducing or eliminating your company’s marketing budget? All businesses have a business generation process which requires new lead generation with the goal of sales conversion. And marketing is the very bloodline of that process. Assuming you have done proper planning and you have a profitable business generation process, you generate gross margin. That’s more margin to pay overhead and deliver profit.

Historically, sales statistics confirm that, in the most challenging economic times, clients seek new resources to help them meet their needs in a more strategic way. So why do we not see today’s economic climate as an opportunity to keep our companies infrastructure intact by increasing revenue, rather than slashing existing overhead?

Revenue growth and cost reduction are two goals that all business seeks today, growth that is efficient, profitable and quantifiable. Modest cost reduction can complement the attainment of revenue goals, not the elimination of entire budgets that are responsible for watering and feeding the seeds we have spent years of cultivating.

Interactive marketing such as PURL, email distribution, and web-based campaigns are achieving some of the highest response rates ever experienced. Personalized direct mail is now affordable like never before, and “executable without a dedicated IT team.” Web-based advertisement delivers laser like focus for advertising to prospects. And, much like the way of flat screen displays, printing and promotional items have become more competitive in this global on- demand world. Large format signage and banners are now affordable in substrates that were never before affordable to most.

So try to remember to seek options that can provide paradigm shifts in the way you choose to accomplish your goals. Think twice before eliminating expenses that should really be looked at as investments. I often wonder why we ”invest in equipment” yet “spend money on marketing.” Why do we treat an investment in a fork lift as an asset, but an investment in our brand as an expense?

I think I know the answer. Experience tells me it’s the same reason we choose the crash diet over a lifetime of healthy eating. In other words, lack of a dedicated commitment to the challenge at hand. I guess that’s why I’m 30 pounds overweight, and have five former gym memberships.

There is some good news, however. My wife still makes homemade manicotti, but now she uses low fat ricotta.

Still trying and standing outside the trees,