According to the book, “Advertising in a Recession,” companies who promote their businesses in a slow economy can boost their sales, increase profits and market share, and open the lead on the competition. In this Q&A, Kathy Simonsen, president of Auburn, Calif.-based Simonsen Sales and Marketing, discusses the importance of advertising — not only in a robust economy, but also in the tough times.

EC&M: Why is it important to ramp up marketing efforts in down times?

Simonsen: In a recession, companies that continue to advertise do much better than those who pull back and then try to advertise later. Advertising consistently helps your audience realize that you are a strong and stable company. It's also a good time to take away market share from your competitor. As a competitor pulls back and you continue to forge ahead, you will gain market share.

EC&M: What advice would you offer electrical contractors who were contemplating cutting their marketing budgets?

Simonsen: If your sales start to drop and you eliminate the one thing that will help you increase sales, you're really asking for trouble. Advertising is not about getting a sale tomorrow. It's about getting a sale in six months.

EC&M: How can electrical contractors generate more business through advertising and marketing campaigns?

Simonsen: Give something away for free like a catalog or a pen. If you get a lot of people to respond, you will get leads and then you can follow up on those leads. Some of those will probably turn into future sales.

EC&M: What marketing tools are the most effective?

Simonsen: Good marketing uses a variety of methods to reach to a target audience. Trade shows are great for in-person and advertising is great for image and exposure and branding. A lot of companies are also using e-mail newsletters, which can also be very effective. You just to figure out what you want to accomplish with your marketing, and then select the method that will help you reach those goals.