In times of economic slowdown it is common to see companies make expense cuts to try and protect earnings. Some of the first expenses cut are marketing expenses that are seen as a “nice to have” by old school thinkers. Certainly in the world of the COVID-19 pandemic where economic survival is taking center stage, cutting any costs possible may seem the absolute right, and necessary, step. But before doing so, consider a different perspective.
As the author shares, according to the Advertising Research Foundation, brands that “go dark” in a downturn take five years, on average, to recover market share. So, what do you do when you are trying to protect your business in the near term while under pressure to reduce expenses? Here are 3 tips:
- Change your language; change your perspective. Let’s use two words, expense and investment. What do you typically want to do to an expense? Reduce it! Conversely, what do you typically want to do with an investment? Grow it! Now, let’s apply that to our brand spend. If you classify brand spend as an “overhead expense”, refer to it as a “cost”, or discuss it as “discretionary”, your language clearly reflects a lack of importance in this spend, and it will be the first area you look to cut. However, what if you classify brand spend as a “brand investment”, a “mandatory strategic plank” or a “differentiation mechanism?” Will you be so eager to cut it? Changing your reference, language and perspective dramatically alters how you approach 80/20 prioritization. Remember, it’s not all or nothing. You may certainly need to cut something, but if it’s really an investment and differentiator, I suspect you’ll find ways to cut other areas and protect at least some of this investment.
- Everyone owns brand ambassadorship. I often chuckle at the notion that “everyone thinks they are a marketer.” And while professional marketing is harder than it may look, the truth is, everyone who touches the brand is an ambassador. Every person in the production facility, every customer service representative, every sales person and every office manager touches the brand and has the ability to influence. So use it! Make sure the entire organization understands the brand strategy, brand essence, key points of difference and has an “elevator speech”, and look for ways to capture and share the collective passion for the brand in community, on-line, personalized and authentic ways. Sharing Youtube, TikTok or Facebook videos, or Instagram & Pinterest visuals simply by using contacts you already have can be methods to reinforce your brand and encourage pass-a-long sharing & exposure. On the e-commerce side, instead of sending endless emails offering discounts to people, how about sending helpful lifestyle tips that can encourage your brand to be a point of reference & credibility?
- Better insights today; better results tomorrow. Do you really think the world is going to return to exactly the way it was before the pandemic? Understanding end user behavior is going to be more important than ever as product & service usage are going to shift. The good news is that gaining insights is more flexible and cost effective than ever. Google Analytics, Facebook Page & Audience Insights, online survey tools and dozens of other methods are at your fingertips to garner important inputs into behavior changes and how that may impact your brand. Also, when is the last time you reviewed your amazon.com pages for clarity, impact and differentiation? What about amazon’s incredible amount of data available from order history reports? For not much money, an investment (there is that word again) in quality data mining and insights today will yield a more relevant and actionable brand strategy tomorrow.