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Marketing Upwards in a Downturn

How can marketing professions prepare for a recession while realizing that there is no room for squandering precious marketing dollars? As our B2C audience becomes more frugal when buying, our B2B folks will follow suit. Will the discount giants, filled with cash, be the only companies to survive a depressed economy? As a marketer, how should you plan for a “possible recession” when consumer behavior is about to shift?

The following are some strategies to help prepare you for marketing in a “downturn” that will help you maintain or even increase your market share:

Amount of marketing spending. It’s a proven fact that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when their competitors reduce their budgets, can improve market share and realize a return on investment at a lower cost than during good economic times. Consumers need the reassurance of brands. However, if you truly need to cut your marketing spend, try to shift your 30-second spots to 10 or 15-second ads, create smaller sized digital banners, consider a switch from TV to radio, or even try direct marketing promotions, which provide good branding and immediate results. Media companies are hungry during a recession and are always open to negotiate increased frequency and lower costs.

Keep campaigns focused on emotion. When uncertain times are upon us, fear sets in among consumers and any advertising that doesn’t create a sense of security and well-being – may miss the mark. Using emotions of warmth, hope and security can go far in conveying the feeling that “everything is going to be all right” to both B2B and B2C buyers.

Emphasize exceptional value products. Instead of touting the features of your company’s high-end products, your marketing should convey an awareness of alternative, value options. These options come with the same high-quality standards that your brand has always had – and consumers will honor that.

Emphasize core values. CEOs need to devote time to key customers and their employees. This is a time to instill loyalty in employees by inspiring them with the  understanding that their company has survived difficult times before and remained successful and able to maintain both quality and market share. Employees appreciate communication about research, product development, and sales, as well as full transparency with regard to the company’s performance.

The takeaway: Successful companies do not abandon marketing strategies in a recession; they instead modify and adapt them.

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