When the economy takes a nosedive, and in this case possibly the worst decline since the Great Depression, invariably the first thing on the company chopping block is their marketing budget.
This scenario is nothing new. It has been repeated over and over for decades.
While we are going to offer some tips on how to use limited marketing funds most effectively during tough times later on, let’s first discuss why it is so important to keep up marketing during these tough times.
Here is an example based on our own experience.
This client is one of the oldest and at that time, the second largest U.S. manufacturer of padding for carpet installed in both residential and commercial buildings in North America. Let’s call them “Manufacturer B.”
When the 2008 Great Recession hit, the first thing Manufacturer B did was look for areas to cut. We were in their round of cost cutbacks. Further rounds included the elimination of research and development and there were more cost reduction rounds soon to follow.
They survived that downturn, and ten years later, we were called back to help Manufacturer B with their marketing content creation, product promotion, and communications program. However, what we saw when we returned was an entirely different company, much smaller than they were before.
Manufacturer A and Marketing
Now let’s compare them to the largest manufacturer of carpet padding products in the U.S. We’ll call them “Manufacturer A,” which continued their marketing program during the 2008 recession.
Plus, Manufacturer A continued putting money into research and development. Newer products were introduced during the recession that later became popular when the recovery took hold. Soon, they became such a leader in the carpet padding industry, a Fortune 1000 company purchased them.
Manufacturer B and Marketing
Manufacturer B, on the other hand, continues to struggle to this day. They have not introduced a new product in over a decade. Their marketing department is small with few marketing initiatives in place. Whether padding Manufacturer B makes it or not, is anyone’s guess. However, they likely will never return to their former stature.
Unfortunately, they made some major cost-savings decisions to help them make it through the recession. But, looking back, many were shortsighted decisions, making their survival as an entity now a genuine concern. Best not repeat their mistakes.
Now the Tips for Effective Marketing During a Downturn
So, if marketing during an economic downturn can help businesses survive and then thrive once the recession is over, how can we make sure we use those funds most effectively?
The following are my suggestions:
Create a marketing budget. If it needs to be scaled back, understood, but have a marketing budget so you know how much money you can utilize.
Look for lower-cost and no-cost marketing options. Publishing articles in trade publications is very cost effective. Further, social media strategies tend to be a cost-effective marketing program.
Review what has worked in the past. The question brands must now ask themselves is how much bang can they get for each marketing buck? Sure, marketing strategies have changed over the years. However, if past programs were working, revisit them to see if they should be started-up once again.
Look for marketing alternatives. This involves marketing content creation and runs the gamut from PR to social media marketing, different forms of advertising, article placements, videos, infographics, even podcasts. Much will depend on your industry, but all of these have proven effective for different companies.
Outsource marketing work. Turning to outside providers has inevitably proven to be more cost-effective than handling all marketing in-house. Plus, when working with an outsource company, the entire relationship is based on results. If the results are not there, discuss options with them, or look for another company.
Final thought: In a downturn, keep marketing funds flowing. They can be more critical than at any other time.
More information on marketing content creation can be found here.
More information on marketing in a downturn can be found here.