A marketer’s job is to create a conducive environment for a transaction to take place.
Marketers worth their salt are constantly on the look-out for opportunities to create the ideal conditions for a sale to happen. Whatever process she may follow, great marketers are always on the lookout for a way to be noticed. Whether using an old, tried and tested media such as advertising on radio, or newer methods such as using influencers on social media, a marketer never rests.
Expecting a marketer to stop selling is like expecting a fish to stop swimming.
I am no economist, but most would agree, South Africans are facing a tough economic time ahead. By some accounts, other markets around the world are also showing signs of slowing down. This will add further pressure on consumer’s budgets. Discretionary spending will dwindle as more folks start shopping for value. During a downturn, the effects of an outdated marketing strategy can be devastating. People change their purchasing habits; consumer profiles no longer reflect the true target audience, and the customer journey can take a detour.
If there ever was an opportunity for a marketer to shine, it is now.
I have been fortunate to work with several brands that managed to weather tough economic climates over the last three decades.
I’ll share the 5 main points they had in common.
A robust marketing strategy in place
Every successful brand that has weathered a major downturn, will agree that having a recession-proof marketing strategy helped ensure the future sustainability of the business. Successful companies don’t abandon their marketing strategies in a recession; they adapt them.
The brand is central to the company
Marketing during a time-of-plenty, with lots of discretionary money flowing through the economy, is not difficult. You just need money. Marketing to consumers who are counting every last cent to make sure they can survive can be difficult. But, for brands who take the time to create true value, it can be a time of plenty. Long-term value is the hallmark of companies that beat market crashes and come out stronger than before. Companies that invest in building their brand value in the good times have a head start over those that have a weaker presence. They are better positioned to maintain their strong position and can use this to leapfrog the competition.
They never cut their marketing budget
In an HBR.org article entitled “How to Market in a Recession”, John Quelch offers sage advice. The article was published in September 2008 shortly after Lehman’s Brothers filed for bankruptcy and the global financial crisis that followed. Quelch says, “Maintain marketing spending. This is not the time to cut advertising.” He continues to explain that brands that increase advertising during a downturn, when most competitors are cutting budgets, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost, than during good economic times.
They seek out opportunities
In “Companies Need to Prepare for the Next Economic Downturn” another HBR.org article this time published in April 2019, Martin Reeves, Kevin Whitaker and Christian Ketels, reveal how companies who invest in growth through R&D and being innovative have the best chance of surviving an economic downturn. These leaders encouraged their people to be creative in solving problems and made it ‘safe’ to try something that might not work. They challenge the status quo and ask, “Why?” Being in the habit of asking, “What can we do better?” they never rest with, “Good enough.” This attitude to improve is what gives them the edge when times are tougher. Customers turn to tried-and-tested brands that have been consistent with their promise of value over time.
They focus on their existing customers
The fact is it costs more to get new clients than it does to look after and service existing ones. Focussing on existing clients is frugal advice. In a Blue Corona article Recession Marketing: 5 Rules to follow, Betsy McLeod says, “Make sure your marketing strategies are focused on your most valuable, happy, loyal customers. Bend over backwards to keep them happy, and be sure to reward their loyalty. These happy customers will repay you in the form of recommendations and reviews.”
Regardless of market conditions, the economy, or any other external influences, the marketer is on the lookout for opportunities to create that fertile environment for a sale to take place. No marketer is ever going to batten down the hatches, that’s why in times like these, she is so valuable.
Have an awesome weekend! 😄