These are uncharted waters. Life as we knew it, for the moment, has hit pause. We are standing apart to be united. Resilience is something each of us are finding daily. Sitting at the helm of an advertising agency that knows a thing or two about being resilient— over 100 years old, having survived two World Wars and The Great Depression among other things and having personally worked through the challenges brought by 9/11 and the recession of 2008—I know that this challenge, like the ones before it, holds opportunity.
I think of the words of former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley who unapologetically stated, “When times are tough, you build share.” And it’s proven. Over the years, research studies have confirmed that the best strategy in terms of long-term ROI is to increase marketing expenditure during an economic slowdown.
And while that may seem self-serving it’s also well documented. The basic formula is simple – at least on paper. The higher your share of voice compared to your actual market share, the more likely your brand is to grow its market share in the subsequent year. So, if you increase your marketing investment at a time when competitors are reducing theirs, you should substantially increase the saliency of your brand. This can help you establish an advantage that could be maintained for many years. And, because media costs are likely to be lower during slow economic periods, advertisers can get more bang for their buck. These savings may be compounded by the relative ease of cutting through in a less cluttered atmosphere.
“When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you MUST advertise.” In the attached article from the September 5, 2019 issue of Forbes, Brad Agate lays out the historical success of those businesses that maintained or even increased their ad spending during a weak economy and the reasons to do so. It’s worth a read.
The immediate opportunity for your brand is clear. Connect with your customer in ways that resonate in the current context. Use empathy, reassurance, understanding and courage to highlight what your brand stands for to carry your business through this current crisis and reap the positive repercussions with customers when things get back to a state of somewhat normal.
Over the next several days, Stevens will be highlighting specific tactics for taking what you know about your customers and turning that knowledge into strategic, effective actions to maintain and grow market share in times of turmoil.