If you turned to this page in hopes of finding
inspiration, you’ll likely not find any.
You won’t find the standard “when the going
gets tough, the tough get going.” What you
will find, what you will hopefully take away is
the belief that brands are the most valuable of
assets and that those companies with healthier,
stronger brands will be the ones most profitable,
regardless of economic climates.
We need to remind ourselves of the strategic
value of our products, services and yes,
our brands. We must hold fast in the belief of
long-term profitability instead of hard to
measure, immediate market share gains.
Every business, from 2.0-style social networking
sites to local boutique clothing
stores and every Web enterprise in between
must focus on investments in brand equity
and not solely on marketing expenditures.
Clearly, the biggest challenge is to assure
ourselves that sustained branding efforts will
provide the deepest value to our enterprise
further down the road of success. It might not
happen today, perhaps not even tomorrow.
But when things turn around (and they will),
your business will be in a much better place
because you and your organization wholly
made that mental shift; where the bottom line
isn’t nearly as important as the relationships
you build with customers, partners and the
The arguments for continuing to spend in
a weak economy are tried and true and
based in economic realities. Your competitors
will spend less — should you decide to maintain
your marketing spend, you have an
excellent opportunity to gain market share.
Opportunities also arise in that new entrants
(consumers don’t simply disappear) switch
to less expensive alternatives — perhaps your
own. Consumers may grow conservative but
they don’t vanish.
The best way to convince ourselves of
continuing to spend in a recession is by
thinking of brand marketing as a sustained
effort; as returns are cumulative and they
compound. Building brand equity can be
thought of much in the same way as building
a retirement fund — slowly and cautiously.
Those who keep their cool when everyone
else is panicking will win.
There are, of course, shifts in strategies
that must be implemented. Consider co-promotional
strategies to leverage relationships.
Negotiate down existing terms for
lower rates, remnant space and volume discounts.
Connect with your consumer base
through social networking, bookmarking,
shopping and review sites. The list of ways
to save without losing brand equity is limitless.
While it might take a little more effort
to unearth such opportunities, the long
term payoffs will prove to be exceptional.
Recessions are also prime times to identify
new target markets, use new promotional
methods to reach them, and adjust positioning
in a way that is more in line with the
new environment — economic, psychological
and beyond. Define or rediscover the
core values of your brand. Move forward
with innovative strategies to reach new
audiences and keep your message consistent.
Focusing on your brand and its value
proposition to the consumer will provide a
much-needed focus, and the ability to make
the most of your marketing spend. And
that’s something you can get behind no matter
the economic environment.