When a depressed economy impacts your business and your brand, it’s easy to panic and be reactive. But a down economy can actually present opportunities to build your brand up. Here are three strategies you can take advantage of now:
1. Deal from a position of strength, not weakness.
A natural reaction to sluggish sales is to cut your expenses any way you can. But reducing expenses that can impact the strength of your brand can have a long term negative effect. For example, suppose you cut back on your customer support hours, or reduce your customer support staff. This may result in cost savings, but it could also lead to customer dissatisfaction and even losing customers because they can’t get questions answered or problems resolved in a timely manner. When you need to cut expenses, start with budget line items that are not customer-critical.
Remember that customers keep you in business, during good times and bad. You need to work to do things to maintain customer loyalty, especially in a down economy. To keep your brand image strong, invest in the things that keep your customers coming to you instead of going to your competitors.
2. Invest in your brand by taking advantage of market-driven deals.
This is not the time to slash spending on your marketing activities; in fact, history has shown that brands that invest in marketing during recessions come out stronger in the end.
There is a hidden advantage in a down economy for brand marketers. Soft business conditions impact the media, too, and that means great advertising deals are available. Media outlets such as publications, radio and televisions stations, and websites may be willing to deeply discount their ad rates and throw in extra incentives for advertisers who commit to a multiple insertion contract. Print publications with websites will often discount ad space for a combination buy.
Go after the media outlets that target your specific audience and don’t be afraid to bargain. Ad space is negotiable. Similarly, explore the possibility of getting discounts and incentives from any other marketing suppliers.
3. Reach out and help someone.
Everybody feels the pain in a down economy, but no one more than those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. This could be the time for your brand to do good by making a donation of time, product, or money to a good cause that helps the less fortunate. You can make a contribution directly or indirectly, via a program in which you pledge to donate a portion of the income you receive from customers.
Why would you make a charitable contribution now? Sure, it is the right thing to do — but just as important, it is a very effective public relations strategy. When you make a donation, you can talk about it prominently and it has residual and lasting benefits. Donating to a food bank or helping an organization that feeds hungry kids is a way to show your brand has a heart. Aligning yourself with a good cause can have a significant “halo effect” on your brand.
Today, very few company, product, or service ideas are truly new and unique. You can almost be guaranteed that someone, somewhere, has developed a product or service similar to yours. A prospect who has to choose between two competing brands that are essentially the same will likely choose the brand that is also doing a little good for the world.