When Bargain Shopping Meets Business

I admit it proudly and without hesitation – I’m a bargain shopper. For as long as I can remember I’ve lived under the mantra that most things aren’t worth my money at full price when I can get them somewhere else on sale. And while I’ve spent most of my life checking price tags, I’ve noticed more comradery in the bargain world lately. While college graduates move back in with their parents, working families opt to carpool, and the Salisbury steak makes a comeback, home life minimalism starts to reflect the increasingly barren business world.

Many people are joining this plight for frugality in the midst of a receding economy that mimics all of the worry, strife and helpless feelings of an increasingly receding hairline. Those who have changed their personal spending habits are forced to shave a little, or a lot, off the sides of their business budgets, too. Not surprisingly, studies show that more than 90 percent of companies have used some sort of cost-cutting strategy over the past year. Are all of these well-intended efforts really helping businesses coif a stable structure through this economic wind tunnel, or will poor strategizing result in a massive financial knot and too many split ends?

Trying to reduce spending while minimizing layoffs is a tricky game of finesse and sacrifice. Many companies have opted for less drastic actions, including freezing employee salaries and hiring, minimizing travel expenses, reducing bonuses and cutting hours. No one said reductions were pretty. But like waiting for a bad haircut to grow out again, the most we can really do is breath deeply and look for productive ways to take advantage of an unfortunate situation.

We’ve seen companies clip away discretionary dollars and monitor what is deemed as necessary spending more than ever before. In unfortunate comb-over style desperation, a common response is to skimp on marketing and advertising efforts, reasoning that this is the least essential element of a company’s stability. But just as a woman’s finely crafted locks of hair are one of the most important aspects of her image, so is your company’s advertising a fundamental facet of your brand. While other companies may be taking a razor to their marketing budgets, you should clean, condition and maybe even restyle your company’s strategy for relaying your public image. Get people talking about you while your competitors stay out of sight and out of mind.

Where money is concerned, I’m always a fan of spending less while getting more out of your investment, and not skimping on the essentials. The hottest thing in advertising this season will definitely be making sure your company does advertise. DO be bargain-chic and look for less expensive ways to get what your business needs and get work done. DO cut costs. DON’T cut marketing.

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