Businesses get much-needed pep talk

Published 10:12 am Thursday, March 12, 2009

IRONTON — As companies throughout Ironton and Lawrence County attempt to survive in the face of tough economic times, business owners are looking for areas in which to slash expenses.

More often than not, marketing is singled out as one of the major areas for cost reductions.

But ask the father and son team of Dr. David and Jordan Lucas what they would cut and they will tell you that marketing should be one of the last things a company needs to eliminate and if done is tantamount to business suicide.

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Both Lucas’ spoke to a gathering of more than a dozen business owners Wednesday night at the “Downtown Business Marketing Workshop” located at the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library.

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, Ironton In Bloom and Ohio University Southern sponsored the free workshop.

“Your market is open 24/7. There is no reason the city of Ironton can’t be open for business and there isn’t any reason Lawrence County can’t be open for business as well,” said Dr. David Lucas, associate dean and associate professor of communications at Ohio University Southern.

The 90-minute PowerPoint and question and answer session allowed both Lucas’ the opportunity to take business owners through a step-by-step marketing brainstorming session with the goal of increasing and expanding their sales base.

Much of the presentation focused on having Ironton and Lawrence County-based companies visualize both within and outside of the box in making current and prospective customers aware of what they offer that differentiates them from their competitors.

In a relaxed back-and-forth conversation format, both speakers shared numerous past experiences in relating items like promotion, creating and effective marketing strategy, defining marketing objective, creating the message and innovative marketing methods.

“There is no silver bullet in growing your business,” David said. “It will require a lot of patience and hard work.”

Both speakers warned that businesses should not decrease their marketing in response to the current economic climate as decreasing marketing will only result in still fewer customers that they currently have. Without marketing, they said, potential customers will not know your company exists or why they should even care.

Jordan Lucas, who serves as program manager for the Southern Ohio Procurement Outreach Center and like his father, teaches at OUS, told the gathering that in order for the Ironton business community to grow, business, regardless of specialty, must be united.

“It’s vital that all businesses work together because you can’t work against each other,” explained Jordan when giving examples of business cross-promotion.

Both Lucas’ stressed throughout the presentation that businesses, both large and small, cannot afford to sink into oblivion and that many savvy companies use very inexpensive and effective marketing and advertising methods to increase their name and brand recognition and enhance their public image.

“If you really want to reach people, then you have to reach them seven different times, seven different ways. You have to hammer your message over and over again,” David explained while discussing how to use the media to create business buzz. “If you do that, you will be successful.”

Both Lucas’ thought cutting back on marketing makes a company less visible at a time when just the opposite is required and recommended that 10-percent of all revenue should be budgeted towards marketing and advertising.

However, those in attendance were warned about advertising blindly and were suggested to put a solid media plan together where the business owner “keeps with the message” instead of having the advertising sales representative “decide the message for the company.”