It does not matter what your opinion is of the ongoing war with Iraq, the reality is upon us. So what does it all mean for businesses and how should they be marketing to grow sales during this time of war?

When calamity strikes, businesses have a tendency to pull in their advertising dollars. Many companies have included clauses in their contracts to cover contingencies for acts of terrorism and war.

Some companies take advantage of the opportunity to show their brands patriotic side by running advertisements that show their support for families affected by the tragedy or for the men and women in service. We saw many examples of this on radio and TV following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Major Las Vegas casinos created new marketing campaigns to take effect once the U.S. began to attack Iraq. According to the Las Vegas Sun, some campaigns focus on direct marketing pitches, such as mailers, that will entice gamblers with special offers at specific properties on the Vegas strip. Read more about this here.

Ask yourself this question when considering what to do to your marketing plan during war time: Will people still need the products or services you sell? If the answer is “Yes” then be sure not to overreact by drastically cutting back your marketing budget. You may want to consider adjusting your message and the way you deliver it.

Here are some things to consider when terrorist acts happen or war strikes:

  • Can your product or service be marketed in a new way to help the cause? With minimal investment can your product or service be modified to help with the fight? If so you could cash in big with the right message to the right audience.
  • Is the medium most effective for you company no longer running ads because of extended media coverage? TV and Radio may be focused on terror and war coverage so much that advertisers get bumped. Considering direct marketing methods with mail or email may be good alternatives. You may even find it more cost effective and results oriented then other mediums you have been using.
  • Paying attention to your online marketing plan may be more critical during wartime. People will tend to go online to escape the news hype. Investing in your web presence, key word search placement and developing an eNewsletter may be good priorities for your company.
  • What is your marketing saying? Make sure your messages cannot be interpreted as un patriotic or un tasteful in anyway. Be sensitive with your messages to those that may not appreciate the Uncle Sam slogan asking for their business when their relatives may be serving in a more serious capacity.
  • Do your part to help the cause. In the event of tragedy companies that proactively find ways to help out usually get great publicity and appreciation for their efforts. Donations of products, services, employees time and money are all news worthy contributions. A good PR firm might be a good investment to help get the word out to those you are assisting and to the media. Consumers will feel good about doing business with you knowing you helped out. Your efforts can even be integrated into your marketing campaigns to illustrate further that your company cares.
  • Don't be cheesey with your marketing. Don't try and tug on the consumers heartstrings by saying your product is more American or patriotic then someone else's. Today's consumers aren't stupid and you could get a negative response. Using a soldier to endorse your product or service is probably not a good idea unless they really use it and it is widely known.

When considering what to do with your marketing during a war don't forget that people still have basic needs to fulfill. They are still going to buy products and services from someone while our country is at war or at peace. The point is don't let go of your plan to grow your companies bottom line while our soldiers are on the front line.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Edge serves as Vice President of Rumba Direct Inc. (www.rumbadirect.com) a top 100 direct marketing agency. Doug has served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ball State University.