Yes, that’s right, I said increase your marketing. When hard times hit, the natural tendency for organizations is to cut marketing budgets to the bone. That’s just backwards thinking. Marketing should be positioned as an investment rather than an expense.

Advertisers need to understand that during hard times, it is especially important to be bold and even increase your marketing budget. Harvard business professor John Quelch writing in The Financial Times of London suggests the following about marketing during recessionary times:

● Research the consumer. They are redefining value and responding to the recession. Price elasticity curves are changing. Consumers are willing to postpone purchases, trade down or buy less. Trusted brands are especially valued, interest in new brands and categories fade.
● Focus on family values. During hard times we tend to retreat to our village. Family scenes in advertising gain purchase with consumers.
● Maintain marketing spending. According to Quelch, it is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession when competitors are cutting back can improve market share and return on investment than during good economic times.
● Gimmicks are out, reliability, durability, safety and performance are in. New products, especially those that address the new consumer reality and thereby put pressure on competitors, should still be introduced, but advertising should stress superior price performance, not corporate image.
● Adjust pricing tactics. In tough times, price cuts attract more consumer support than promotions such as sweepstakes and mail-in offers.
● Stress core values. Adapt marketing strategies to economic realities. CEOs should spend more time with employees and members.

Organizations that acknowledge the consumer’s need to retreat or flight to safety will win, according to Lisa Renner, CEO, Beyond Marketing, LLC., Lenexa, Kansas. She noted the more than two million people who took advantage of Denny’s free breakfast offer recently—demonstrating the need for comfort food, as another form of flight to safety.

“We have to change the way we think about marketing and advertising,” she said. “The winners are those that shift their thinking to solving consumer problems by looking through the consumer’s lens rather than through their own.”

What do you think? We’d appreciate your thoughts…How are you approaching marketing during these hard times? Please post a comment and let us know.

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