If you ask anyone in Marketing (traditional or online) right now what trends they are seeing from their clients, I can almost guarantee that high up on the list will be the cutting of marketing budgets. In what could be one of the worst recessions in recent US history, a Fear Economy has developed over what the next year and a half may bring to businesses and brands in almost every field. So, a question remains. What are we supposed to recommend as marketers so our brands weather these hard times and come out on top?
At the risk of sounding like a Give-Us-You-Money-And-We’ll-Spend-It Media Strategist, the most impactful solution to this question is….keep spending. During recession periods, marketing budgets are typically first on the chopping block (especially within big companies), however, remaining visible during a downturned economy can be incredibly important in keeping a company profitable during these times (as well as paying dividends once the economy begins to improve).
Historical data shows us that there is a significant messaging void during slumps in the economy (due to the aforementioned budget cuts) and that the impact of brand messaging and Direct Marketing efforts can be more impactful because, well….there’s just not as many people on the playground. Marketing within this recessionary void can increase brand share of voice and promote “company health” to consumers, avoiding the feeling of “abandonment” that consumers can feel if a brand’s messaging goes silent all of a sudden for extended periods of time (see Guns’N’Roses, Chinese Democracy).
During the Great Depression, brands such as GM, Proctor & Gamble, and Camel cigarettes became brand leaders and survived the economic downturn by increasing marketing efforts while their competitors panicked. Moving forward, I still see budget cuts….but (for the brands willing to make the investment in the future) a big opportunity for brand awareness and, ultimately, conversion.