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February 11, 2008

Recession Marketing Part 1: Beating the Recession

An unspoken air of tension hangs over the populace. Whispers spread back and forth…”The market’s down, hard times are coming.” Sound familiar? There’s a lot of negativity about the state of the market right now, but let’s look past the gossip and examine the facts.

All markets fluctuate to varying degrees. Economic cycles come and go, businesses rise and fall. But look at companies like McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson and Colgate that have survived and even grown in periods of economic recession. What’s their secret?

If you’ve ever been busy and on a budget, you’ve probably eaten at McDonald’s. What makes them worthy of the title of “largest fast-food chain in the world?” Ba-da-ba-ba-ba, I’m luvin’ it! Ever had that stuck in your head, followed by a slight tinge of resentment because you’re now craving a burger, fries, and a Coke? Super-size it!

And after that, don’t forget to brush your teeth. How do you protect your teeth for 12 hours after brushing? Colgate!

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably used Johnson’s Baby Powder at some point; it’s almost a conditioned response. Why? Because we hear that warm, maternal voice articulating how smooth and clean it leaves our skin feeling. We see the happy, giggling baby laying in the sunlight, clutching her parent’s finger after a changing.

All of these companies have one thing in common, and this is their secret:

They all understand the value of marketing. Each of these companies continued to market and even expanded their marketing during past recessions.

Marketing during a recession

A series of six studies conducted by the research firm of Meldrum & Fewsmith showed conclusively that advertising aggressively during recessions not only increases sales but increases profits. This fact has held true for all post-World War II recessions studied by American Business Press starting in 1949.

With that being said, marketing can be a costly enterprise, and there’s never been more information to absorb or avenues to choose from. How do you make the right choice?

What are my options?

A combination of marketing techniques is the most effective strategy.

Here are the four major categories of marketing media you can focus on:

  1. Internet
  2. Television
  3. Radio
  4. Print (newspaper, magazines, journals, etc)

Be aware that each category is generally more effective within different age groups. Internet marketing has the highest impact on the 18-35 age group. Television is more effective with the age 35-50 crowd. Radio reaches a fairly broad age range, but doesn’t always grab attention as effectively as the other venues. Print media marketing is generally more effective for an audience of ages 35-75.

So how do you get the most out of your marketing dollar?

  • Tailor your marketing mix based on your client demographic
  • Get better results and save money with traditional advertising (by cutting excess spending and integrating your website with traditional marketing)
  • Shift spending towards more traceable marketing venues (internet, track, capture info/etc)

Here are a few tips for recession marketing that will save you money and keep your company at the head of the pack:

Know Your Clients

Consider your own client base. What are the average ages for the top 20% of your clients? How many of your clients are over 50? How many of them are over 35? This will help you narrow down where your clients go for information. Identifying the strategic ground is crucial to winning market share.

No matter what form of advertising you use, everyone’s favorite radio station, TV station or blog is W.I.I.F.E, “What’s In It For Me?” That’s what everyone’s tuned in to. Make sure your ads answer that question in 10 seconds or less.

Run a Lean, Focused Campaign

Look for ways to cut excess spending while still maintaining visibility. Focus on results by driving marketing and traffic to your website. Then you can convert those visitors into leads and a database of contact information.

Waste not, want not. A ¾ page ad in the yellow pages can be just as effective as a full page. Rather than running a full page sales letter in a magazine or tabloid, offer a free report that people can print out online once they visit your web site.

Negotiate with your stations to buy filler inventory. Often radio stations will have 10 to 15 seconds where they have to push filler in order to start a show on time. Those 10 to 15 seconds could easily be your ad at a significant discount. The station gets the extra dollars they need during a recession and you get the extra exposure.

Invest in a Strong Web Presence

Think of ways to drive people to your website. Consider using an easy-to remember URL with your promotions, like “KFAQLovesPizza.com.” Make sure your URL is easy to spell and contains no symbols. This strategy makes it very simple to track your promotions.

In addition to your phone number and URL in your advertisements, offer a free report, a free newsletter, coupons, or some other free information of value to your target market. This is always appealing to customers, even more so in difficult times.

One crucial aspect of your website marketing mix is capturing your visitor’s information. A simple contact form tastefully placed on your front page with places for name, e-mail address, and phone number will dramatically increase the amount of leads you receive.

Join me next time for my article on how to beat the recession and grow your business through the first of the four categories, Internet Marketing.

Author:  Jonathan Cox is a marketing analyst and consultant for Xeal Precision Marketing. He has ten years experience in the marketing, design, and IT industries. www.xeal.com

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