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Maverick Marketers Defy Economic Slowdown

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Marketing budgets are usually among the first casualties during an economic downturn. Just don't tell Sally Gilbert.

Gilbert is creator of the Anti-Aging Expo & Symposium (, an event for health-conscious consumers taking place in Charlotte in early 2009. The event is so important that Gilbert has spent $9,000 on marketing already and plans to spend $40,000-$50,000 more.

"The natural health and personal growth market has exploded into a $230 billion/year industry," Gilbert says. "Consumer interest in choosing food, products and services geared toward wellness is higher than ever. We can't afford to wait for an economic upswing to reach out to these consumers."

Gilbert turned to Carissa Roman, owner of a PRstore franchise in Huntersville, North Carolina, to promote the event.

"I needed someone who could deliver large agency results, without the big agency costs and hassle," Gilbert says. "PRstore was the obvious choice."

PRstore ( is a one-stop marketing shop that operates in retail settings nationwide. Think Madison Avenue meets H&R Block.

The store caters to smallish clients -- those with fewer than 100 employees -- with marketing budgets typically too small to attract big agency interest.

With a weak economy, you might expect business to be slow. But Roman's PRstore just had its best month since opening in January, booking $35,000 in new business in May.

"When you're running a business, you don't have time to be the marketing director, too," Roman says. "Especially now, with companies searching desperately for ways to boost sales, PRstore is the right fit because we make marketing easier."

PRstore co-founder Kathy Butler says an economic slow-down exposes the shortcomings many companies have in their marketing efforts.

"When consumers pull their purse strings a little tighter, you need a top-notch marketing plan to keep revenues up," Butler says. "Unfortunately, some companies don't think about marketing until the slowdown is well underway."

Still, Butler says, it's never too late to get started. At PRstore in Huntersville, Roman has sold so many GamePlans -- customized marketing strategies -- that she's projecting a very busy summer.

"Smart companies know that a solid marketing plan is a priority in any economy," Roman says. "We're proof that you can grow a business during a slowdown if you have a good marketing plan."

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