Part of living and working in a boom/bust economy is the inevitable and temporary downturn. Sadly, one of the first things to go in these leaner times is marketing budgets. Companies that cut their marketing budget, however, are missing unique opportunities presented in times of economic uncertainty. By thinking long term, careful investment in marketing will ultimately assist your company bounce back as the economy improves. Consumers do not stop spending all together when the economy shifts, they just spend differently, so any dramatic shift from your strategic marketing plan will cause your business to miss an opportunity.
The main reason your company can benefit from a careful investment in marketing is the same reason your competitors can miss out: the idea that marketing is an expense, not an investment. As your competitors reduce or cut their marketing budgets completely, your company has the ability to stand out by maintaining or increasing current marketing. Continuing your marketing while your competitors do not allows your business to stand out from the competition and weakens the image of the competitors. In addition to this, the competition for advertising space is significantly lowered, allowing you to stretch your marketing budgets further.
For larger brands, a down economy is the perfect time to get back to basics in terms of service offerings and build a campaign that focuses on a central idea that connects each marketing initiative of TV, web, and print. When it comes to smaller brands, a down economy gives you the opportunity to respond by growing your brand awareness with tremendous additional visibility. It also allows you to be more innovative in your messaging by following a more integrated approach to promoting your brand. While the concerns of the present day are always there, smart marketers know to keep one eye on the future with a strategic marketing plan.
Business owners and managers feel that if they are laying off staff, investing in marketing would be “bad optics”. This is the farthest thing from the truth. When under attack and your market share is eroding, now is the time to put up a marketing fight of your life to ensure you company survives. Companies that invest in their brand when things are less-than-ideal benefit exponentially when things are good, so a proper strategic marketing plan is crucial to navigating any rough times your business is wading through.
Handling a downturn is never easy, but if you follow these tips, it should be smooth sailing on the otherside:
Don’t let people or equipment sit idle. This is the time to reinvent yourself or pursue new target markets. Diversification is key for long-term success. If this is your game plan ensure your brand properly reflects what you do, why you do it and who you do it for. Your website will be key in telling your story.
People buy from people so keep customer relations strong through sales calls and lunch and learns. People who are usually very busy may now have the time to meet with you. Be sure to be prepared with a great presentation and leave behinds.
Use direct marketing tactics. Deploying e-blasts are highly effective and a cost effective way to keep your brand top of mind with your client base.
Invest in digital advertising. This allows you to reach your customers in a very targeted manner; plus you have a great level of control over your spend. And, you can see precisely the results of your campaign and the traffic it created.
Invest in ideas. Slower markets offer greater opportunities to focus on different segments or benefits, so invest in marketing that is new, creative, or targeted.
Pull ahead of your competition. If they are not investing in their marketing, they have left a gap for you to fill. Use this time as an opportunity to stress your position in comparison to your weaker rivals.
And most importantly, maintain your strategic marketing plan. A brand’s strength comes from its consistency, even when times are tough. Damaging your brand will only damage your bottom-line in the long run.