April 7, 2020

Looking at The Past, Can Help Us With The Future.

The current global situation facing both individuals and businesses in regards to the COVID-19 is a serious one.  People are falling sick, lives are being lost, and it’s important that we all do our part to help flatten the curve. With that being said, I do believe we’re still in a place where we can and should talk about what we can do to keep businesses afloat in the tough times ahead.

You may be thinking that logically now would be a good time to cut back on marketing dollars spent; but what if I told you that the opposite is actually true?

I’d like to show that even during economic strife, advertising is vital for the survival of your business – both current, and future.  Businesses who are scaling back now could cause further struggles in restoring their normal operations in the future.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Keep reading for 3 insights and 7 actionable steps you can do while you’re social distancing. 

1. Be Genuine And Sincere In Your Marketing

No matter what industry you’re operating in, your customers are facing tough times right now. Remaining honest and genuine in your efforts to ease their concerns as they relate to your products and services during this time is essential.

People are sceptical of too-good-too-be-true deals, or companies who seem to be disingenuous- and they should be. Tough times are not an opportunity to take advantage of customers and offer empty promises, evaluate how your products or services can provide value during this time. It’s a chance to get clear on your branding message, and the unique values you can offer.

Why is your business continuing to operate? It must be because you’ve got something that offers value – and that’s what you need to be communicating to your target audience.

2. Cement Your Brand Purpose During Tough Times

Now is a great time to be purposeful with your brand.

You don’t have to only advertise your product or service. You can also promote for the good of the people—offering support to non-profits or other local organizations; pledging donations to healthcare workers on the front line; relaying new safety advice or guidelines from health departments in your area.

Additionally, now is a good time to evaluate your prices and get creative to remain sensitive of the current climate. Rather than price-gouging, can you offer discounts, payment plans, deferrals? Free trials or subscriptions? How can you help your clientele in unique and meaningful ways? If you need a faster way to receive or make payments, then consider trying out this global payment processing software.

These are all important factors and considerations that go into crafting marketing messages and campaigns during this time – showing your customers that you care, and that you’re flexible will ensure revenue coming in and a stronger relationship in the future.

3. Your Competition Is Cutting Their Ad Spending

One of the reasons why companies who don’t cut advertising see so much success is because their competitors have cut their marketing budget exponentially, leaving a void where they once had ads and campaigns.

Now is a good time for you to move into the space they’ve left behind, cash flow permitting of course.

We’ve see time and again that companies that maintain (or even grow) their ad spending increase sales and market share once a recession is over. Check out the case studies below.

A Few Stories To Think About

Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of 4,700 public companies looked at the three years before, during, and after recessions. As the authors found, “Firms that cut costs faster and deeper than rivals don’t necessarily flourish. They have the lowest probability—21%—of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better.”

The HBR study contrasts Office Depot and Staples during the 2000 recession:

Office Depot cut 6% of its workforce, but it couldn’t reduce operating costs significantly. Although the company created an incentive plan to boost sales, its sales growth fell from 19% before the recession to 8% after—five percentage points below Staples’ post recession sales growth rate.

By contrast, Staples closed down some underperforming facilities but increased its workforce by 10% during the recession, mainly to support the high-end product categories and services it introduced. At the same time, the company contained its operating costs and came out of the recession stronger, bigger, and more profitable than it had been in 1999.


1980’s – McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 B2B companies and found that those who maintained or increased advertising grew significantly, both during the recession and the following three years.

In fact, by 1985, sales of companies that advertised aggressively had grown 275% over those that didn’t.

Cahners Advertising

In recent history, during the recession that followed another extraordinary event – in this case September 11 – only 25% of all companies boosted their ad spending.

Those that did were rewarded with greater market share. In fact, according to a 2001 Cahners Advertising Research Report, their market share rose more than twice as fast as it typically rises during a normal economy.

7 Things You Can Do Right Now

Historical evidence is great but if you’re asking yourself what things could you work on right now, I’ve got some ideas for you.

  1. Take a step back and evaluate your UVP and point of difference – how can you update your UVP to talk more about how you can help people in the midst of the Covid-19 situation.

  2. Helping local businesses with webinars or resource centres – there’s a lot of uncertainty right now, how can you use your experience to help others around you.

  3. Useful content creation – content is king for a reason, it helps people during the buying cycle make decisions, it positions your business as a thought leader and as a side benefit it helps with SEO and being found online. Now is a great time to start working on building those content pieces that you’ve been putting off.

  4. Thoroughly read through your website and assess the copy. Does it flow properly, is there a clear call to action, is it user friendly and easy to navigate? It has probably been a few years since you last read all your web copy, use this time to make sure it is up to date with any new services or processes you may have implemented.

  5. Complete a competitive analysis – use this time to take a deep dive into your competitors, going in-depth with things like their on-page SEO, links to their website, domain authority, how are they using social media, their UVP and more.

  6. Brand consistency – a great brand is one that is consistent throughout all forms of media and communications.  Now is a great time to gather all of your marketing assets and make sure the fonts, colours, photos, icons, print materials and messaging are consistent everywhere.

  7. Online Paid Advertising – over the last few weeks the costs of pay per click ads on Google, Facebook and LinkedIn have been going down in some industries so if you have something helpful you can offer your audience you can help amplify your reach with some paid ads.

Recession? You’ve Got This

Even during tough times, the business you have worked so hard to maintain can still thrive. It is important to think long-term and assess how continuing to invest in your business will help you stay ahead of the game once we are back to normal.

If you can show yourself as a reliable and trustworthy company, offering value to customers and communities during this time; people will be receptive to that. 

Now more than ever, consumers are looking for something stable to rely on – show them why you are it.

If you have any questions at all about how we can help your company, marketing and advertising questions or just want to talk to someone I’d be happy to, just reply to this and I’ll get in touch.

Stay positive and stay healthy!
Mike Robertson

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