Written by Teyden Haycroft, Marketing Account Manager, Sandbox Brand Marketing
In an economy such as the one Alberta faces right now, a rare and unique opportunity presents itself. This opportunity comes around only when major external forces, such as a recession or economic downturn, appear in your sector. Most do not capitalize on it, which makes this an opportunity ideally situated for CEOs that are willing to take on some risk, for a BIG reward.
When times get tough, your competitors will hunker down, retreat to their shells, slash marketing budgets and choose to wait out the storm. But breakout brands recognize that the best time to speak to customers is when no one else is fighting for their precious time and attention. Numerous studies have shown that companies that keep spending on acquisition, advertising, and R. & D. during recessions realize significantly better than those which make big cuts.
Strategically investing marketing dollars when the competition is laying low offers the chance for your brand to dominate the conversation with prospects and customers. When the economy starts to recover (and it undoubtedly will), and your competitors try to pick up the conversation again where they left off, YOUR brand will now have the ear of the customer. Just like that you’ve just leapfrogged the competition, and for a nominal monetary investment than if you’d attempted to do this at market peak.
It’s not a new idea, or even an innovative one. You’ve heard the concept before, it’s like buying low and selling high. Invest in marketing when no one else is doing it, and when the market turns your brand equity will have risen while your competitor’s has remained stagnant or shrank. (Added bonus: it is also cheaper to buy media in a recession, when demand is low) the ability to gain market share with less investment is during these poor economic times.
Those companies that are in a strong cash flow and asset position have the opportunity to take advantage of competitors that have not managed their operations as well. Smart companies purposefully budget for these types of opportunities accordingly. They bank marketing dollars in the good times so that they are never required to sacrifice marketing spend in challenging times - when they most have a need to be driving leads into their business.
Equally as important, is ensuring that what you are saying and doing with that marketing investment is focused and on-point. Simply draining your business of funds at a critical economic time with a boring idea, ineffective messaging and poor targeting won’t slingshot you past competitors. In fact it can drown you.
Businesses need to work from a formalized strategy that first determines a position you can hold in their marketplace: one that is unique to your company, differentiates you from other companies in your sector. Then you need an exciting idea that can captivate and compel your customer segment. Here it is critical that what you are saying is not the “same-old, same-old” or it will be all too easy for your customers to ignore, even if the competition is staying quiet. Not only that, but having a brilliant idea behind your marketing spend means you’ll spend less. Resonate in the minds of your customers with clever, different, compelling content, and you won’t have to spend the money to get that campaign in front of them over and over again. Aim for resonance, not repetition.
If your market is facing tough economic times, such as we are here in Alberta, then perhaps it’s time to think about the opportunities such a market presents in the long-haul. Strategically position yourself now, and you’ll be able to leverage that investment to accelerate past your competitors when the turnaround comes.