5 things to know when marketing in an economic downturn

Jeff Richards

How will your business look on the other side of the recession?

All of us are susceptible to difficult times. When we encounter financial and economic challenges, it can truly put our businesses to the test. However, you can successfully navigate these uncertainties by putting appropriate strategies in place. Every industry and business faces its own unique challenges, we’ve put together some best practices for weathering tough times for any business. Be sure to speak with your lender or business specialist about how we can continue to support you so your business goals can still be reached.

Don’t panic
Your existing brand campaign shouldn’t be abandoned unless it is clearly unsympathetic to the mood of customers. No company wants to come off as ‘tone-deaf’ when the business landscape has changed due to common challenges that everyone is facing. There is often more value and reassurance in continuity than in change. Research has shown that ‘share of mind’ and ‘share of market’ are inherently connected. As some brands limit or stagnate their exposure to consumers, smart brands are staying on course and greatly increasing their chances of being thought of first once the recession is over.

Find the positive
Keeping your brand at top-of-mind can be one of the most effective ways to mitigate poor business results.  When  a brand is thought of first —  and  there’s less competition seeking the consumer’s attention (i.e. share of mind) — research shows that  it’s easier for brands to gain market share. Increasing market share is proven to be much easier in a softening market than in a strong market. With this truth in mind, you can see that a downturn is actually a great opportunity to experience growth for your business. There’s definitely market share that can be immediately won in an economic downturn.

Be empathetic and honest
Don’t be reluctant to use emotional brand advertising during recessions. You just need to make sure your message is appropriate to the mood of your customers. Again, you don’t want to come off as tone-deaf. However, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when trying to preserve and even grow your business. You just don’t want to employ fear tactics to accomplish it. But there’s nothing wrong with stating the facts about a situation to move consumers to act. Research supports the use of honest messaging that demonstrates humanity through generosity, caring and humor. You should demonstrate to your customers that you understand them and know what it’s like to be in their shoes. We’re all in this together.

Demonstrate humanity and warmth
Seek out practical and tactical opportunities to foster goodwill through acts of humanity and generosity. The Covid-19 pandemic has evolved into a common enemy that is affecting all of us. This is an unusual situation for a recession and has generated a level of community spirit that we haven’t experienced in previous recessions. If people (consumers) are being cooperative in adversity, then it only makes sense that brands that do the same will earn their respect and most likely gain loyalty. 

Focus on the long-term
We understand the instinct to cut marketing expenses, but this will decrease brand awareness, search result ranking, and brand loyalty. It’s helpful to remember that all of those things took years to acquire. Once those hard-earned equity gains are gone, they are very expensive to restore — and could take decades to get back. The worst thing a business can do in a recession is sabotage its revenue by halting advertising. This will result in the business attempting to recover with less money — and more competition once the economy improves. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and stressed with so much pressure being put on the economy, and on your business. However, this recession is only temporary and that is important to remember. It’s critical to keep that in mind as we all work our way through this situation and approach the end. Having foresight to invest in post-recession recovery — during the recession — will see positive returns as the economy returns to growth.

Having a strong marketing partner and strategy is important during these turbulent times. IronGate can provide the tools and experience to help you navigate the rough waters and keep your business poised for success.

Please contact us to set up a phone call or video conference to see how we can help you!

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