When to promote my business?

I continue to encounter this same issue over and over with clients. When times are good for a company they do not feel the need to market their business, the wave can never end. So when I approach them about search engine optimization or online marketing they look at me like I am crazy and typically elect not to market their site/business online. Then when times are tough companies come out of the wood work to have us do online marketing for them. This is fine for us, as we are then like Pizza, something people use more when the economy is down, but why is it that way?

Internet marketing, search engine marketing, and online marketing; no matter what you call it takes time. It also costs money, so when times are good, you would think companies would put more money into marketing so that you can avoid the downturns all together? Is there really such a thing as too much business?

A family member of mine was looking to promote their business with a more substantial online presence. They business is Sport Fishing in Alaska with Black Rock Charters. Three years ago when we first put up the website I asked if they wanted to do search engine marketing, they elected to put minimal effort/funds into marketing (which is more than most busy companies), they had more business then they could manage. In fact times were so good they added two additional boats to their fleet. For two years the boats were all full 80-90% for the entire season, then came 2008 and the boats were only full 70% of the time, now looking forward to 2009 the boats are below average bookings for this time of year.

So now, the owner/family comes to me and is ready to work towards online marketing, which is wonderful but a little late. If I had started 3 years ago, organic online marketing would have had more then enough time to get grounded and the rankings would be here. Now we have to work twice as hard in a shorter period of time in order to get similar results.

What I hope is that others take this into consideration when budgeting for marketing. Business always runs in a cycle, up one day, week, year and down the next. Marketing allows you to make the highs higher, and the lows easier to endure. If you plan for the future, by establishing a budget for online marketing today you will be one step closer to business success.