When times are hard, most companies trim unnecessary spending. All too often, marketing and advertising go on the chopping block, and trade shows, together with trade show training, are considered an expendable luxury. Wrong!

To fight this trend, you need smart strategies and hard facts. Here are four to get you started:

1. Recession advertising pays big dividends. During the recession of the early 1980s, McGraw-Hill Research analyzed the results of companies that did and did not continue to advertise. By 1985, “aggressive recession advertisers” had sales 256 percent higher than those of companies that “did not keep up their advertising.” Studies in other recessions showed consistently similar results.

2. You snooze, you lose–profits. Nike boldly increased its ad spending by 300% during the 1990-1992 recession. Reebok cut back. By the time the recession ended, Nike’s profits were 900% higher than those of its rival. Reebok lost big by their play-it-safe strategy.

3. Out of sight, out of mind. “The worst thing you can do is disappear,” says Andrew Razeghi in his groundbreaking study of marketing during a recession. He tells the story of a company that decided to cut costs by skipping a major industry trade show. As a result, customers decided they must be in financial trouble, and sought new suppliers.

4. Trade shows help you keep the customer satisfied. Which is easier: increasing customer retention by 2% or cutting costs by 10%? In terms of profits, they’re the same, and the trade show is a unique and powerful opportunity for you to ensure the kind of customer satisfaction that keeps profits flowing.

Written by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, internationally recognized expert working with companies to increase their profitability at tradeshows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market” and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies.” www.thetradeshowcoach.com & www.richesinniches.com