Pulling Ahead When Times Get Tough

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog entry about building your brand when business was booming. As the economic wonks continue to predict troubled waters ahead, it seemed fitting to put something together that discussed the approach a company should take when times are tough. Ironically, the answer is similar to the blog I referenced previously – but for somewhat different reasons.

It might seem self serving for the marketing agency to recommend brand building in both good and bad economic conditions, but it can be explained by answering a simple question: when is it beneficial for customers to know who you are and why they should choose you? In good times? Yep, if they have resources to spend, you want them to think of you first. And in tough times, the scarcity of those resources make branding even more critical.

When times are tough economically, both consumers and businesses scrutinize each and every purchase. Decision makers weigh the pros and cons, and the sales cycle tends to take longer than usual. This is when a strong brand can really pay dividends. If you’ve been diligent about building a strong brand during a strong economy, a weak economy is when that work can really pay off. On the other hand, if you need to strengthen your brand even though things are slow, there’s still time make a positive impact on sales.

Ever heard a stock market expert talk about how important it is to buy stocks when they are “on sale?” Equities don’t really go “on sale” of course – they’re talking about investing when the stock market is down because that’s how you get larger returns when the market inevitably (to this point in history, anyway) rebounds. A similar approach works with branding, because many of your competitors will make the tactical error of reducing spending on marketing during a downturn.

Nature abhors a vacuum, according to Aristotle, who was evidently the world’s first branding expert.

When your competitors stop telling the world about their products and services, it makes it easier for you to gain attention for your own. In marketing it’s known as “share of voice,” and yours can increase more easily during tough times because there are simply fewer messages vying for the eyes and ears of your target audience. Your “voice” can seem louder because other voices are getting quieter. All you need to do is stay consistent.

When the news seems to be filled with negative talk about the economy, it can be challenging to keep your eye on the ball when it comes to building and maintaining a brand. But doing so can have huge benefits in the long run. It’s the perfect time for the steady runner to pull ahead in the race.