The pandemic led to record unemployment numbers across the country in a matter of weeks. As everyone struggled to navigate uncharted waters, it soon became apparent that our economy was heading toward recession, even before it was officially announced.
Even though people are now trying to focus on moving forward and seeking out the new normal, reality has shifted. Consumers and businesses will behave differently for some time. In such situations, logistics and manufacturing can shift onshore to minimize disruption. Reorganization also often means cost-cutting measures.
The marketing budget often gets slashed in favor of such considerations. But the need for marketing remains, and it can even present an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. How can you make the necessary adjustments?
Stay connected to your audience
In times of uncertainty, consumer spending patterns are likely to contract. They don’t have a lot of disposable income and have to keep an eye on their future needs. Businesses dread this shift in behavior. Yet the mistake would be to similarly retreat into your shell and stop reaching out to your audience.
People are spending more time online due to the closure of non-essential establishments and social distancing measures. Remote working has taken jobs out of the office and into household desktops and laptops. Those who lost their jobs will be seeking new ones to thrive.
Increase your marketing efforts on a variety of platforms. This will allow you to distribute content that reaches people through social media feeds, videos, email newsletters, ads, and even podcasts. In turn, that content will help to grow your brand equity and establish your foothold in this chaotic world.
Shift to agile marketing
Marketing teams and professionals might be forced to work with less. And this makes today the perfect time to morph your organization into something that can do more with less.
The agile methodology is popular among software developers, for instance, because their work by nature is continuously evolving. Users frequently end up experiencing the software differently than the developers intended. They can raise unforeseen feature requests, encounter issues, or not utilize certain aspects of the system at all. Thus, developers need to work quickly, in continuous small iterations, always using feedback to enhance the system.
Today’s marketing teams need to learn from agile principles to sustain success. Recognize that no specific tactic is guaranteed to work in such a turbulent environment. What brings results today might not do the same tomorrow. What matters is nimbly integrating feedback, collaborating across the organization for insights, and using rapid testing and deployment cycles to have a grasp of what’s working.
Back the team
Becoming agile in today’s world makes a lot of sense. But many organizations can struggle to achieve it even in just one aspect. Its principles often run contrary to the way most established hierarchies work.
If you want to succeed with agile marketing or any sort of marketing adjustment during a recession, the marketing team needs to have your full backing. Essentially, you’re trying to do things a new way; there will be some resistance within the organization.
This lack of readiness is a significant reason why businesses might fail to adapt. Empower your people, and release them from the framework of traditional job functions to enact the necessary changes at speed.
Plan for recovery
Marketing adjustments in the present can be made with short-term survival in mind and nothing more. But studies have shown that being active and smart in this area will benefit your outlook in the long run as well.
During the 1981-82 recession, firms that held firm or increased in advertising enjoyed higher sales growth for up to three years afterward. Aggressive advertisers, in particular, surged during the recovery period. By comparison, conservative advertisers had modest sales growth. The overall takeaway is that a recession can be chaotic, but it’s a shake-up of the status quo. Do nothing, and you’ll settle back down; treat it as an opportunity, and you’ll improve your position once the dust has cleared.
Warren Buffett once said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” He was talking about investment, but marketing in a recession is also a form of investment. And if you pull out while everyone else is ruled by fear, you won’t reap the rewards as we enter recovery. Keep an eye on the long term, and know that you’ll be able to see things out even when things don’t look good right now.