Great Companies Shine During Difficult Times

Boosting marketing and PR efforts during recession makes good companies great
By Erin Johnson, Edgetech I.G.
May 1, 2009
FEATURE ARTICLE | Sales & Marketing

There is no news like good news–especially right now. You can’t open a newspaper or magazine without becoming depressed about the state of the economy. At times like this, is there really no good news to share or is it just overshadowed by a dark cloud of recession?

Take note that many great companies were born from recession, including well-known empires, such as Proctor & Gamble, Disney, General Electric and a little company named Microsoft. What these companies have in common is that they marketed their products well, standing out with positive messaging and value-added products during difficult times.

For example, the start-up company Proctor & Gamble pushed its Ivory soap during the Great Depression and emerged a powerhouse in consumer brands. The philosophy that carried P&G then still carries the company today. A.G. Lafley, P&G chairman and CEO, recently told a group of investors, “We're weeding our own garden, but our garden's pretty strong…” He also noted that products such as Tide laundry detergent, Dawn dish liquid and Bounty paper towels get more done than cheaper rivals.

Very few companies, if any, are recession-proof and that includes P&G, but the company is sticking to its message of strength and the high value its products bring to the consumer. There may be a lesson to be learned here.

Tell Your Story
We all know the recession has hit the fenestration industry hard, causing numerous plant closings, job losses and other cutbacks. But there are a few companies among us who are taking full advantage of the opportunity to stand out with positive marketing and positive press.

The good news has not gone away in the fenestration industry; the stories are just waiting to be told. Many solid, smart companies are using the downtime to invest in their products, processes, employees and communities so they are positioned to excel when the market turns upward. These are the few red jelly beans surrounded by a jar of black licorice. In other words, by telling these stories they will get noticed among all the bad news–boosting brands, showing strength and encouraging others (customers and partners) to want to associate themselves with such as strong leader in the industry.


Getting messages out to newspapers and other media can be done in a variety of ways.
This article, focusing on tax credits, was submitted to North American Press Syndicate
by Edgetech.  The NAPS service allows companies to submit articles that are unbiased
and generic but hit on key topics such as home and garden, energy efficiency, home
improvement, window replacement, etc. NAPS then places these articles in national
newspapers, home and garden sections, realty papers, penny savers, etc. This article
was placed in some 500 newspapers.

 

Relaying positive messages can be accomplished in a number of traditional ways including advertising, Web sites and tradeshow involvement. But for those with limited budgets there are other cost-effective ways to tell a story:

  • Public Relations
    PR is a great vehicle for companies looking to get the maximum value within a budget. You can’t put a price on the value of a press release or article that reflects a company’s positive attributes. A theory exists that solid editorial is three-times more credible among readers than advertising– and it costs much less.

    Sharing a company’s knowledge and expertise through editorial helps position it as a “thought leader” among peers and customers. So when a potential customer is looking for expertise, they will first think of the company that is out there sharing knowledge and elevating the industry. PR works best when messages are reiterated through advertising and marketing materials, but on a budget, can do a fine job on its own.
  • Blogging/Social Media
    If you have a story to tell or experiences to share, start a blog – but do so cautiously in a controlled environment. Blogging is free and an excellent way to reach customers and elevate a company as a thought leader. But blogs have a few drawbacks. A positive blog can quickly become nasty, when a competitor or naysayer logs in anonymously and leaves a negative post. So, please be sure to put a practice in place where messages are reviewed before they are posted.

    Additionally, remember to write about something compelling and treat it with the same standards as other communication materials to protect your brand. Spelling and grammar errors are not forgiven, even in blogs. These are items that separate a thought leader from just another person with yet another blog. Also examine whether popular–and free–social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, are appropriate for your business.
  • E-Communications
    If it’s not in the budget to design, write and print a newsletter – try e-communication. E-newsletters are fairly inexpensive to produce and printing costs are eliminated. Not to mention the paper-free version is substantially better for the environment. Always a plus.
  • Industry Associations
    Being an active member in industry associations also helps to elevate a company among its peers. Get employees and executive leadership involved. Serve on committees and be a voice in the industry.
  • Community Involvement
    Encourage all employees to get involved with the community. Now more than ever, community organizations need volunteers and donations to help those in need. Give employees the time and flexibility to be out the community doing good deeds. This will create a feeling among employees that they are making a difference and the company was involved with making these positive feelings happen. Good deeds help a company shine from within. This glow will be seen from all around.

Effective Industry PR Efforts
Duxton Windows' Al Dueck has written several articles covering green building, establishing his company's expertise in that area.

Encouraging employees to work with community groups makes them feel good about themselves and their companies.  Those efforts can also help generate some great exposure, like Cascade Windows enjoyed thanks to its involvement in the Extreme Makeover television show.

Regardless of how a company chooses to relay its stories, there is one thing to always remember: for positive messages to have meaning, the entire company must be on board and believe. Internal naysayers will only bring the company down. While the positive vision may start from the top, it has a trickle down effect. Keeping everyone working together is essential to keep the company moving forward.

Shine from the inside out.

The greatest way for this to be accomplished is to get employees at all levels involved. Share positive news and new business from the sales team to production workers. Conversely, tell the sales team about the new processes production put into place that is are creating new efficiencies and saving money. Open communication will cause the messages to find their ways to external clients and partners as well.

Great companies will prevail. Learn lessons from good companies that became great during tough times and shine through the clouds of recession. No matter how you choose to share your story, always remember to stick to your company’s core competencies and improve upon them. These are the things that you know you do well and you are known for in the industry. Now is not the time to nix marketing and PR. Instead, become part of the solution by being positive and progressive. This will help your company and the entire industry shine. You’ll be surprised by the opportunities you may find. 
 

 

 

 

Centennial Windows does an amazing job keeping in the press by being active in its  community. The manufacturer's online Bulletin Board highlights its many activities and accomplishments.

 


The Window Factory in San Diego sponsors The Home Show, a popular radio show in Southern California. John Jedynak, who hosts the show, is also an owner of the Window Factory.

Simonton Windows gets involved with many projects and activities that boost its exposure among builders, remodelers and homeowners.  A recent example was DIY Network's Blog Cabin, which was built based on input from  DIYnet Web site visitors.   

Erin Johnson is marketing director for Edgetech I.G., the manufacturer of Super Spacer wam-edge spacer products.