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Marketing in Tough Times

By August 31, 2023No Comments

Concerned about lower sales and tough times ahead? While your instincts may be to pull all discretionary spending, cut costs and batten down the hatches, the benefits of marketing through an economic downturn or a recession are well documented.

Over almost 100 years, studies show that businesses that invest in marketing don’t just maintain their position, but can significantly grow share. Bain & Company research has found that “companies make more dramatic gains or losses during downturns than during stable periods.”

What drives these results? As others cancel their spending, advertising and media costs fall significantly, the reduced competition means you’ll have a higher share of voice. Simply put, lower costs and a higher presence in market equals significantly higher ROI.

Maintaining your marketing presence and taking a strategic approach will set you up for success on the other side.

While there are proven business benefits to marketing during a recession, it’s also crucial to get your tone right and ensure your message is tweaked and optimised for the times. We recommend:

  1. Reviewing pricing to take the pressure off consumers. Consider permanent price reductions, value packs or special offers
  2. Clever marketing and adjusting your tone to better appeal to and connect with your consumers while they’re doing it tough
  3. Investigating opportunities to create new partnerships and collaborations, to support strategically aligned causes or charities, and investigate potential mergers & acquisitions
  4. Use your data and consumer insights to really sharpen your campaign, invest in channels which drive reach and adopt a ‘test and learn’ or continual improvement mindset
  5. Building consumer loyalty by finding ways to connect and engage, offer value, build your database and (gently) encourage word of mouth. Brands and businesses which maintain a re-assuring presence in a meaningful way will be remembered long after the recession or downturn is over.

As marketing Professor Mark Ritson said in his Recession Playbook, in an economic downturn “… your customer has changed. They are now risk averse, keen to save, uncertain of the near future, tentative. These changes mean opportunity for those companies nimble enough to recognise and respond accordingly…”

Don’t get out your pruning shears. While it takes a longer term view and confidence to hold spend in tough times, maintaining your marketing presence in a savvy way will drive short term sales and set you up for significant growth gains on the other side!