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When times are tough : market smarter, not harder

innovate MORE not less during tough times

During the hard times in business it takes a tough cookie to “keep on keeping on”, often a stance the more resilient CEO’s and professional marketeers take, whilst their more nervous equivalents may take more of a run for cover approach.

Times are tough and without doubt those people in a role of responsibility are worried.  Far too frequently a knee jerk reaction is to cut Marketing spend without fully taking into account the consequences.

This response is often due to an innate sense of responsibility to their employer, fellow team members and indeed their own family commitments.

In a business where you 'wear many hats' and there are all manner of pressures on time & resources, it can be easy to lose focus on how large a part that investment in marketing plays. The knee-jerk might be to 'put that hat away' for a while when actually the opposite is required...

marketing in a bad economy

Cutting your marketing budget in a bad economy is one of the worst things that you can do. It is not the time to focus less on marketing, but rather the reverse! 

You need to attract attention during a recession, the beauty of marketing in the 21st century is that many marketing channels available are simple to use, cheap and fast.

lowering the cost of sales

In some industries advertising is often used to assist in reducing the overall cost of doing business. An example of this is how the average cost of business to business sales call has doubled since the start of the decade and, on average each sale may require a minimum of 5 sales calls.

If advertising can substitute for one or more of those sales calls the effect can be accomplished for a fraction of the cost. (bakerdillon.com) 

low cost of entry

With the way that technology has rapidly moved forward you can accurately measure the impact of your marketing initiatives. Through testing adapting and re-implementing when required this can hugely assist with the planning of a cohesive, carefully considered and successful multi-channel marketing campaign.

“the more you cut, the more you lose”

Research from IPA Datamine analysed more than 880 IPA case studies submitted to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Effectiveness Awards since 1980 and found: 

  • An inherent time-lag between relative marketing spend and growth in market-share, because of this lagged effect in sales there is a deceptive short term improvement in profitability, this can lead to an incentive to consider further reductions in an organisations budgetary planning.
  • An organisation that implements such a plan can find that following the short term improvement in profitability that this can be swiftly overtaken by a decline. 
  • The greater the amount you cut, the greater the loss, by the time they begin to reinvest in their marketing budget there is strong chance that the company at that stage might be fatally damaged.

“migrating to brands you trust”

At times of recession and crisis people will want to mitigate risk, migrate to brands and organisations that they trust and feel that they can have confidence in – brands that are still talking to them with a message of relevance.

When your rivals are downsizing and cutting back, investing in Marketing helps you grow by retaining your existing customers, reminding them that you are there and importantly why it is that they use you. It also helps introduce new customers to your services when other brands cut back and are less visible.

// Tips //

  • Failing to Market will Fail Share
    • If you fail to market effectively you will lose customers and prospects to those who are doing this better.
    • The value in your service: –
      • Engage your customers as well as your prospects, find out what it is that they really value.
    • Build on this, ensure you always deliver on what you promise.
    • Crucially, tell people!
  • Building Voice Builds Brands
    • Whatever your market share, the share of the voice that you communicate with your customers needs to be bigger. It is through building your ‘share of voice’ that   foreshadows your market share.
    • Simply defending your brand in an economic downturn will not be enough. You need to dig-deep and fight to improve this.
      • You do this by ensuring that your offering is better, both products and service.
      • MARKET THISThe advantages that your brand has in a clear-cut and persuasive way.
    • If you can can communicate this in a compelling way then you will leave customers and prospects with no doubt as to why yours is the ‘go-to’ brand for their requirements. Failing to do this will result in these changing to brands that do.

what next?

multi-channel marketing

“Over-deliver, don’t over-promise”

Never over-promise on something you can’t deliver! What you should always try to do is over-deliver on the promises that you have made in the marketing copy you have created.

  • Know your customers
    • Do the right people know you?
    • Do they know the right things about you?
  • Know your competitors
  • Create strong customer relationships
    • One of the great things that about MCM (multi-channel marketing) is that it provides substantial opportunities for customer relationship building.
    • You need to win the battle for share of voice, including word of mouth. There are no short-cuts. You may have a better product or service but how will prospects hear about it?
  • Choose efforts that help you pick the low hanging fruit
    • The most loyal customers are the ones who you should market to the most frequently and most strongly.
  • Word of mouth
    • The strongest form of advertising. Your PR and Marketing activities should be designed to amplify the good things that people say about you.
  • Critical Mass
    • You must say it often enough and loud enough to be noticed and heard. Cutting through the noice out there with the odd bit of brilliant PR , advertising or direct mail might make you feel good but it won’t move the mountain. Doing less than the critical mass is money wasted.
  • Be consistent
    • It takes time for your message to sink in, so don’t keep changing it. Keep the look feeling fresh, but don’t keep changing the story – it will weaken your brand.
  • Repetition builds reputation.
    • Don’t change the message because you get tired of hearing it. Bang it home until you hear it repeated back to you by customers, suppliers and leads.
  • Differentiate
    • Your brand needs to be unique, build your brand magnetism – if you offer the same as everyone else why would prospects come to you?
    • If your product or service is the same, change it. Change your offer, find something meaningful or different to add value to your brand and tell everyone. Build on the difference.
  • Promotions and deals
    • Know that they will work best with a strong brand. Promotions on their own will weaken your brand and only achieve short-term gains. Price effects fade fade quickly. 
  • PR – Know the Media
    • From the raft of different channels PR is the one which should be embraced by every business, this is because it is nearly free. Your costs can be exceptionally low if you have someone who produces great copy already on your team, with costs being mostly limited to that of publicising the Press Release. The trick is being able to create rich, successful and newsworthy stories – if you can nail this, then a story can go from starting as a regional, to national and even internationally very quickly!
      • The age old old adage of ‘quality vs quantity’ has never been more true.
    • Critically your stories must be targeted to those media outlets and publications that you want to reach.
    • Your effectiveness at being published will be more successful if you were to consider sending out a dozen or more.
  • Finally, consider Collaboration
    • Consider how might benefit from working with other major players in the marketplace. Whilst you may have reservations about working with others or a potential loss of control you should consider how you might benefit. 
    • When executed properly it won’t detract from your business but rather it should compliment and enhance your service.
    • Pairing yourself up with one who possesses skills that you don’t have and vice-versa tend to be the ones who supplement each other’s weaknesses well.
    • To do this effectively compile a list of those businesses that you feel would have the best synergy. Develop a strategy to approach them and show the how they could benefit from working with you. 
    • You want to see collaborative joint ventures that reward both financially and personally.

What do you think?

There are so many factors to consider during tough times, compromises and efficiencies that have to be made; it is a huge balancing act of human, financial and capital resources. What other considerations have crossed your mind? 

David Pell from Defy Digital Marketing in Cardiff and South Wales. Business Consultant, Mentor and award winning entrepreneur.

About David Pell

David Pell is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Consultant from DEFY Marketing and Business Consultancy. He is an award-winning entrepreneur creating market-disruptive startups over the last dozen or so years, consultant and Welsh Government Mentor who looks at how businesses can use the tools and time at their disposal, in order to maximise business/sales growth.