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8/11/2022 | Gregg Emmer, Marketing Matters

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche

Unfortunately we have been hearing that word a lot lately. When you are not hearing ‘recession’ you might be experiencing it. If you are like most people you resent having to deal with economic situations that you had nothing to do with creating. The US has had to deal with 13 recessions since the end of WWII. In virtually every case it was the actions and policies of a current federal administration that caused (or accerbated) the economic difficulties. And it was the new administration that followed that got things back on track. 

Beginning in 1979 during the Carter administration, which also saw inflation at that time of 13.5% and unemployment at 7.8%, 3 of the 5 most recent recessions were triggered by energy problems and poor administrative management. Ironically this current recession was also triggered by bad energy decisions. Historically the US has experienced recessions lasting 10 months (on average) and expanding economy lasting 57 months according to

So we can certainly hope that the current recession (by traditional definition) will be a short one. 

So you must be asking yourself (assuming the first two paragraphs didn’t scare you away) what does that have to do with Promotional Products Media? The simple answer is effectiveness, efficiency and low CPM (cost per thousand ad impressions). As your clients pull back thinking “promotional products” are easy to stop using when the economy is tight, you're in a perfect position to show how to continue to be connected to their customers, cut back on expensive media like print, radio or billboards and continue to have a top of mind position with their customers.

Businesses that mistakenly stop advertising during a recession find it much harder, if at all,l to regain their market position when things improve. One of the primary reasons is that customers  migrated to competitors that continued to advertise.

Another important consideration in a tight economy is to choose your clients with a focus on those most recession-proof. While no business will avoid all economic pressures, some continue to do well because their services and products are necessities.

While people might put off a kitchen remodel, they will still call the plumber if the basement is filling like an indoor swimming pool! If  the ceiling fan is spitting out sparks, the electrician will certainly get a call. Tradesmen of all disciplines from appliance repairs to auto mechanic businesses all continue to serve their customers and have a need to keep their advertising alive or lose their customers to the competition.

Starting with Thanksgiving Day, the holiday season is business gift season. Discussing gifting with clients now can lock in lower costs and inventory, properly select gifts for the top (most important) customers and a budget friendly gift for the other customers. If you are not rushed and desperately trying to put something together for your client at the last minute, it is surprising how well you can make an available budget work. 

About 5 years ago I wrote an article that said I count on you not listening to advice given. If everyone paid attention and all businesses improved there would be no advantage for you. But if most of the people who read this column simply go on as usual - but you don’t, the playing field gets tipped to your favor!

Refuse to participate in any recession! Spend more time communicating with your clients. Present specific ideas to them rather than asking customers if they want to buy something to give away! Don’t make any conversation about “promotional products," make  it about sustaining contact with their customers, developing new business that can find your client because they are still advertising and maybe even see their business grow.

In the long run this will make us stronger!

Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at
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