Marketing in a Down Economy

Marketing in a Down Economy

Economic instability calls for adjustments to business-as-normal. More than ever, marketing needs to be measurable and aligned with a company’s overarching business goals.

In a wiggle-room economy, companies have the luxury to throw a few marketing ideas at the wall to see what sticks.

Not so today. There isn’t wiggle room to see what might work. And because of the economy, the game has changed: what worked in the past may not work now.

Smart companies aren’t so shortsighted as to cut marketing budgets entirely. After all, study after study has shown that the companies that continue to invest in marketing during market downturns and instability come out well ahead of the competition once stabilization returns. (Often, the shortsighted competitors can never quite catch up afterward, either.)

Nevertheless, economic instability calls for adjustments to business-as-normal. As companies look at where to cut budgets, they look at marketing closely. More than ever, marketing needs to have a tailored budget giving enough play to measurable tactics. And more than ever, marketing needs to be aligned with a company’s business strategy, targeted to its audiences, focused in its messaging, and measured.

Align Marketing with the Big Picture

What is the company’s plan for the next five years? Ten years? Beyond?

Ideally, marketing is always in line with the company’s big-picture plan. However, in times of fluctuating market conditions, marketing has little room for spaghetti-at-the-wall randomness. In a down economy, marketing needs to be lock-step aligned with the company's overarching business objectives.

For example, if the company's owners or investors want to sell it in five years, marketing activity needs to serve the ultimate goal of increasing the company’s short-term value. In some cases, that may be solidifying the brand’s worth, because a strong brand will increase the company’s value to a purchaser. In others, all activity needs to be focused on lead generation and sales activity to increase top-line revenue.

If the company’s plan is to be in business for the next hundred years, marketers need to understand how the company’s current business activity will feed its plan going forward so that they can build a strong foundation for the future. This marketing strategy and plan may involve increasing the company’s visibility and branding and also positioning its current product or service offerings to easily accommodate future additions into the marketing mix.

The examples could go on, but the lesson here remains the same: In any economy, and especially in an uncertain one, businesses need to ensure their marketing activity closely aligns to business goals.

Carefully Target Your Audiences

None of us escaped high school without a teacher telling us to write or speak with the audience in mind. This isn’t new. But it’s often overlooked.

Though FrogDog preaches about targeting audiences carefully during all times, down economies require companies to spend budgets carefully. Spending budgets carefully means not wasting marketing funds on undefined or ill-defined markets or audiences.

When planning marketing, companies need to thoroughly map their audiences. This mapping process must go beyond just looking carefully at potential customers; marketing plans should address all stakeholders, including current customers, resellers and referral sources, and employees as well.

Companies should take very granular approaches when mapping audiences. Who are the target clients exactly? Ideal clients should be profiled all the way down to what they do for fun. Marketing activities can then be honed to reach them in multiple ways.

Clearly Define and Focus Your Marketing Messages

Fine tuning a marketing plan requires figuring out what three or four core things audiences need to know about the company to motivate action. (Note: You can't develop effective messages without a solid map of your target audiences.

Different messages will appeal to different audiences; the challenges is to take your three or four core messages and—without contradiction—make each of them appeal to each of key audiences.

With targeted audiences and focused messages in place as keystone pieces of a marketing plan, marketers can map out effective strategies and tactics (e.g., branding, tradeshows, advertising, media relations, social media, web, collateral) that will best reach the identified audiences and best transmit the identified messaging.

Ensure Your Marketing Tactics are Measurable

Tight budgets are closely monitored, especially in uncertain times. Activity undertaken during a down economy needs to quickly bear fruit.

Gauging a marketing strategy’s effectiveness requires quantifying current status as a baseline against which future measurements can be compared. The status measured might be audience awareness, sales leads, or even overall company revenue.

Assessing progress regularly against the baseline will determine whether the marketing plan is working as it should and it enables the company to quickly correct course when it isn’t. Marketing measurement prevents unnecessary spending and conserves the marketing budget for the most effective tactics.

Get Expert Assistance with Marketing Adjustments

In times of stress, determining what adjustments to make can feel daunting. If FrogDog can help you assess the changes you should make to ensure you come out of market uncertainties ahead of the pack, contact us today.

Posted: Apr 16, 2009
Updated: Aug 11, 2020
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