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  • Writer's pictureRande Vick

3 Reasons to Go Big on Marketing in an Uncertain Economy

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Nobody wants to talk about this feeling. But we're all having it.

I mean, we just landed this side of the pandemic and have been grinding our teeth with every trip to the gas station. There is no shortage of bad news, and everyone wants a little relief.

But now, a large majority of economists are in consensus. They are talking about the coming recession. And we all feel it in our bones.

Layoffs abound. Job listings are shrinking. Big business is looking for ways to "trim the fat" (gross), and small businesses are worried about struggling all over again.

While the knee-jerk reaction will be to look at staffing models, cut down overhead, and shimmy down the marketing budget, savvy business owners and managers always focus on growing mindshare.

Now is the time to go big. Seriously. Here's why.

  1. Companies that continue to market during a down economy have far greater success.

  2. Many companies and competitors will drop out, leaving excellent opportunities for gains.

  3. It is an opportunity to grow Brand Loyalty.

Companies that continue to market during a down economy have far greater success.

Doubling down on a marketing budget in a down economy may sound like the babble of a marketing manager, but it is actual science.

The often-cited report by McGraw Hill Research (1985) shows that of the 600 B2B businesses interviewed, those that continued to advertise during the early eighties recession grew by nearly 275%. Those that slashed budgets struggled harder.

Gut-check that for a minute.

Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? Sure, you should indeed market when times are good. But you MUST market when the economy turns sour.

Many companies and competitors will cut their marketing altogether, leaving excellent opportunities for gains.

That knee-jerk reaction? The one that hits the panic button at first sight of the "R" word? The voice in your head that thinks SHUT IT ALL DOWN!

Your competitors are subject to the same panic, and most of them will.

Imagine gaining that kind of edge.

Your market is quiet as a sundial in the shade, and you are the only one with a spotlight. So you take the stage with an offer. You are the show.

C'mon! That's effing amazing. And what's more?

It is an opportunity to grow Brand Loyalty.

When you show up in your audience's feed during hard times, you're saying, "We're in this together. And we see you." What is more potent than that?

Besides, if you make marketing decisions, you already know that most of your audience is not ready to make a move. So the whole purpose of marketing is to be top of mind when they are ready.

It's always tricky to balance the art and science of marketing. And working through these in a recession is not for the faint of heart. So your tactics will have to change.

Likewise, the tone and offers you put out there will have many new considerations. Crafting a message to deliver in tough times is no joke. But it could also pay in dividends.

Bottom line?

If you've been dreaming of a rebrand, this is the perfect time.

If you've been thinking about upping your ad spend, do it now.

If you're worried about marketing in the face of a recession, consider the history:

  • An issue of Harvard Business Review from 1927 found that companies that continued to invest in their brand through the 1923 recession came out 20% ahead of where they were before the recession.

  • During the recessions of 1949, 1954, 1958, and 1961, Buchen Advertising found a correlation between ad spend reduction and a reduction in sales and profits. Significantly, those same companies lagged behind ones that maintained ad spend during the recession once the market recovered.

  • In the 80s, McGraw Hill Research studied 600 B2B Companies during the recession and found that businesses that were aggressive about building their brand through advertising grew 275% more than those that didn't.

  • A MarketSense study from the 90s found that a balance between brand-building and short-term performance programs yielded the best results for coming out of a recession.

  • Additionally, The IPA Databank recently found that a 60/40 blend between brand building and short-term response programs generated the best long-term market share results, regardless of market conditions.

The world is changing at record speeds. Consumer spending habits have completely changed over the last 3 years. And investors are cautiously watching the markets shift.

As we move into a season of recession, we'll likely witness more change - but with data, history, and a lot of creativity, you can turn the challenge into an opportunity.

If you need a sherpa to guide you through these turbulent times, we'd love to see if we're a good fit.

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