We recently discovered the Web Archive, an organization that has been indexing the Internet since 1996. We took a stroll down memory lane and discovered a gem I wrote in 2004 discussing the economic downturn.
Surviving the economic slump of the early 2000s has helped fortify the thoughts I wrote then while experiencing it.
STRATEGIC MARKETING DURING TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES
Written by Mike Brian, October 2004
It has been my experience that many companies follow a pattern of “damage control marketing” during tough economic times by limiting, if not totally depleting, their marketing budgets during what appears to be a spending lull. However, such unsubstantiated budget trimming may actually result in missed marketing opportunities that can only be taken advantage of during a slower economy. It is quite possible that the optimal time to get a jump on market share is when competitors are lethargic and passive in their marketing efforts, opening the door to successful and economically sound strategic marketing campaigns amidst a sluggish economy.
Evaluate Your Current Strategy
The first step in the process of determining if your company is ripe for growth during slow economic times is to evaluate your current position. Are you “just getting by” during the economic slump? When it comes to your marketing plan, are you in a “maintenance phase” due to budget cuts and producing stagnating results? In the past, marketing and advertising budgets have been the first to go when the belt is tightened, but navigating your company through tough economic times requires strategic planning. When you first identify a downward shift in the economy, be aware that your target market may be soft and its leadership position could be up for grabs. In this case, there is no better time to gain market share by properly maintaining and tactically expending your marketing budget.
Identify and Target Desired Market Share Position
If you have been in a maintenance pattern, invest some research dollars to update your knowledge of your target audience. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to intelligently establish an aggressive marketing plan to accurately communicate with this target population, draw them to your company’s strongest assets and motivate their future spending. Your research dollars will serve as an investment, allowing you to more specifically target your messaging to your core audience and subsequently expand their knowledge of and confidence in your company, its products and services.
What the Future Holds
When the economy is restored and consumers return to their normal buying patterns, they are likely to be very risk-sensitive and will concentrate their spending on companies, products and services that they perceive to be strong and established in order to reduce or eliminate that risk. Because of your strategic marketing efforts during the lackluster economy, you will be positioned as a viable, if not preferred, option. This strategy may require you to avoid employing a conservative tactic while planning marketing expenditures, but keep in mind that the amount of money you spend winning market share in a sluggish economy is considerably less than would be required during peak seasons. You will, in fact, be saving money in the long run and investing in the future growth of your company.
In conclusion, the reality of a sluggish economy could actually provide the ideal opportunity to capture maximum market share. What’s more, as the economy starts to rebound, companies that have reacted strategically and assumed leadership positions by activating their marketing budgets prior to economic resurgence will begin to reap the rewards and will enter the new economy on a positive note.