I’ve been saying this for many years, it’s funny and somewhat strange to see people pull back on marketing and advertising in tough times when their business sales revenue starts to decline.
This is a pattern I have noticed for the past 30 years pretty much across all business types and sectors, large or small, being when the going gets tough, those in charge stop all marketing activities, and promoting their businesses and brands.
Now you may well be saying to yourself, this makes sense, that there’s a reason why business leaders and execs do this because of uncertainty in the marketplace, customers buying less, sales being down due to economic circumstances, and that perhaps spending the same amounts as usual will not render any results.
However, this is simply not true, at least not for all verticals and sectors.
Even in recessions, depressions, it’s a common fact that people still spend money and make purchases of goods and services mostly out of necessity, but also many times just to feel better about themselves, and life in general.
This year in Australia alone there has been a massive exodus of people travelling overseas, mainly to European destinations, and all with 13 interest rate hikes in a row, with economists and the media telling everybody just how bad things are.
Believing that everything stops is wrong and very dangerous because it simply doesn’t.
Cutting Business Running Costs
When total revenue is less than gross expenditure it does naturally make sense to look at cutting running costs in a business, to try and even up the ledger, but herein can lie the beginning of the end for lots of companies. This negative approach instils a blanket of weight and doubt across an entire workplace.
Unless you are replacing business activities with comparable quality products and services, or indeed improvements across the entire supply chain, and here’s the kicker, without impacting the company culture and employee morale, you are going to run into some serious trouble.
What generally happens, and I have seen this time and again over many years is that corners get trimmed, short cuts are taken in production, or service times, employee numbers are cut back, customer support is reduced, marketing takes a back seat, and even sales executives that help bring in the sales revenue are reduced or laid off completely.
All of these negative changes then begin a secondary chain reaction, a disruption of the status quo where the company culture shifts, employees no longer believe in what or why they are doing things, generally marking the beginning of the end for a business, brand, or venture.
Wouldn’t it make sense to “pivot” and make some small tweaks to products or services, possible changes to positioning, pricing models, communications, and then get in front of more target customers via digital marketing and advertising?
All without disrupting the vital functioning of the company.
Find The Gaps, Fill A Need
Sometimes you need to regroup and refocus on your value proposition matched against your customers current needs. You can always find that gap or different way to deliver your value in a way that is better aligned to the current economic circumstances.
It may be a different way to deliver your services, online, or in a mobile fashion, perhaps providing payment plans, or as simple as finding the part of the value in your offer that is more aligned to what people need in tough times. This may include factoring in more security, reliability, etc, and then making more noise about this via digital marketing and advertising.
Look for it and you will find it because (as Tony Robbins correctly states), where focus goes, energy flows.
I know a few business leaders who chip up at times like these, obviously making some changes and tweaks to many parts of their business model, and then marketing and promoting their changes to reap the benefits.
They also find that they have less noise from competitors and have the audience resonating and connecting to their offer that meets some or more of their emotional drivers.
Companies That are Thriving in Tough Times
On a large scale, we see the usual companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook all in the technology sector continue to kick goals and make billions of dollars in profits. However, there are many other companies thriving right now from a range of sectors that include communications, consumer directories, education, pharmaceuticals, and even cosmetic companies such as Loreal up 53% in the first quarter this year alone. (Not exactly one of life’s necessities in my opinion, I’m going to be in trouble for saying this)
On a smaller scale, at a local level some of my agencies own clients are thriving right now, see below:
- An Italian restaurant in Sydney, created lunch specials delivered to office doors, made available via an app that takes pre-payment, promoted on social media, and are doing well. They are planning to expand into catering now.
- A local Real estate agency that changed their marketing and messaging to be more community focussed, offering free advice, building relationships (rather than just transacting) and then promoting this on social media, to great results.
- A local Orthodontist now offering monthly payment plans, we sent out an EDM to his existing clients and promoted this both on search and socials to lots of new enquiries and patients.
- A waterproofing business that wanted to get Infront of more corporate clients, we designed and built a new website and SEO campaign, and they are busier than ever.
- Solar installer that started offering finance payment plans, we promoted this on their website, search and socials and it has made a massive difference to conversions of sales.
- A truck and car hire business that has increased referrals 50X via offering gift cards to anybody as a referrer, promoted on the website and online.
We are currently helping many clients in food, building, education, manufacturing, IT, retail, personal grooming, pet services, clubs, you name it. We work with our clients to help them find the gaps, and to then come up with logical solutions.
Do they get great results? You bet they do, and it’s not because they cut costs, corners, labour, or STOP marketing and advertising.
Stop and take the time to look around and you will see all the clues of success staring you in the face.
Another Reason To Keep Marketing & Advertising Activities Going
As a digital marketer for the last 25 years, I can also tell you that ad cost is also down in tough times across all platforms because competition is simply not there to push prices up higher. It’s as cheap as it’s ever been to get in front of target customers atm, even for industries and sectors that have been until recently too pricey to touch.
YES, no doubt there are some sectors and verticals that do suffer more than others in hard times, however I have seen service-related industries such as hair salons and beauticians thrive in bad times, (The Loreal results are proof of this)
If your business is experiencing tough times atm, I would challenge you to think outside of the square, dare to be different to everybody else, make some logical tweaks where it makes sense, YES cut costs on any unnecessary expenses wherever possible but without disrupting the status quo.
Find the missing gap, align your offer, product, or service, and fill a current NEED.
Then apply marketing, advertising, to promote it.
You will capitalise on everybody else’s deer-in-the-headlights state of mind, and reactive mindset.
This will result in your business capitalising now, and then again much faster once the economy picks up, as it surely will…
“Tough times are inevitable in life and in business. But how you compose yourself during those times defines your spirit and will define your future”