When disruption strikes, marketing is often one of the first casualties – but a quick look at the bigger picture reveals just how self-defeating these cuts can be. As High Point Market approached this spring, Bill McLoughlin, editor-in-chief of US trade magazine Furniture Today felt compelled to speak out about any business with its head in the sand …

I’ve had some interesting discussions about markets and marketing the past few weeks. They usually start something like this: “I’ve got more orders than I can fill. I can’t take on new customers and am allocating to the ones I have. My backlog stretches out months and new product development is delayed because I can’t fill orders for in-line goods. I don’t really need to exhibit at market, so why would I bother marketing?”

My answer is this: don’t.

Stay home. Save the money. Tuck it away for a rainy day.

While you’re at it, save the money you’re spending on that high-tech new CRM system. You have the list of existing customers. They’re placing orders. What else is there to track?

You know that money you’ve been spending on product marketing? Bank it. Without product, what else is there to talk about? Things will always be just like they are today, and consumers will buy whatever they can get their hands on.

Won’t they?

Certainly, your competitors aren’t going to snatch up the customers you dumped. There’s no way they’ll use that extra business to grow their own capacity and take aim at the customers you’ve prioritised. Right?

And those priority customers, their needs won’t change, will they? They couldn’t be lured away by better pricing, more new lines, a better ability to supply or strong marketing that touts all of the above … that never happens.

Fortunately, we live in a world of static business conditions. Things don’t change quickly, if at all. Once you capture some business, it’s yours to keep, safe and secure until you decide you no longer need it.

Of equal good fortune is the fact that companies all move in sync. So, when you skip market because you’ve got nothing significant to show, everyone else will do the same. No one’s going to take the opportunity to poach your customers. Will they?

And besides, when things calm down a bit and you catch up on supply, you can always go back to market. Everyone will have saved your place in line, and you can pick up right where you left off because that’s exactly how business works. Isn’t it?

Yes, the current market conditions confront companies with tough choices about how to allocate resources, how to manage customer relationships and how to handle product development and marketing. 

But make no mistake, there is serious competition afoot – and it’s not to determine who’s going to win next week. The companies with vision in this industry are placing major bets. The savviest players in the business – and we all know who they are – are waiting for the faint of heart to create an opening. There is already major share changing hands – and that’s while demand is high. When demand levels off, even if it is at a higher level, the competition will be even more intense.

So why go to market and invest in marketing?