Why Brand Building is Even More Essential in a Downside Economy
We are now several weeks into an unprecedented time in our lives, both personally and professionally. Besides our personal lives looking drastically different, it’s also no secret that the business world has been impacted. The first reaction for many businesses in an economic slowdown is to reduce or completely cut their marketing efforts. However, studies suggest businesses that keep the throttle on through challenging economic downturns will ultimately thrive on the other side. For small businesses especially, it’s paramount to LEAN IN, stay positive, keep marketing efforts strong and find ways to differentiate oneself.
Seize the opportunity to stand out
During these times of struggle and uncertainty, business owners have likely been faced with making many decisions they have never had to consider. Direct competitors to your business may halt marketing efforts completely and stop rolling things out, so it’s key to simplify, stay the course, and be consistent. Bolster your brand. Build your reputation. Stand by your customers. These crucial efforts not only build trust, but give your audience comfort that you’re around and there for them in times of need, and that you’ll still be around tomorrow. If you’re worried about sales in a down economy, capitalize on what’s working and keep driving new sales.
How and when to pivot
Times like these have a unique silver lining in that they prompt us to make shifts in our business that we probably should have considered earlier. Change often gives way to innovation, and businesses who are thinking proactively about how to reach existing or potential customers are not being short-sighted. This is exactly the type of out-of-the-box thinking that is rewarded. Moving to an online sales strategy or thinking through new ways to connect with your customers via social media IS brand building. Every effort matters.
While there are several ways for businesses to pivot right now, those tactics are largely determinant on industry. Right now it’s about two things: How do you pivot in this new normal, and how do you effectively communicate that new effort? For some clients it’s been shifting to online events or increasing digital ad budget because trade shows were cancelled. For others like the restaurant and personal services industries, this change has been more serious because their revenue stream has been severely impacted. Even those who have figured out how to shift are now struggling to communicate new offerings because as a society, we’re simply not used to doing things this way. Unfortunately for the restaurant business, out of sight could mean out of mind, so the question we see many businesses ask is “how the hell do I run my business now?”
The answer lies with the consumer.
Small companies are probably better equipped for connecting with customers authentically and purposefully than larger companies. To do so, we should be thinking about our value proposition: what makes what we do desirable. We should be focusing on the good we can provide and sharing that with the world at large. Right now, social media is proving to be a more powerful tool than ever because everyone is at home and nearly everyone is killing time by flipping through their social channels. You have a captive audience. Utilize it.
While your marketing effort certainly shouldn’t stop in times like these, it should be more focused. Building and cultivating your brand meaningfully paves the way for strong and rewarding customer relationships that see longevity. Take a moment, reflect on what you have to offer and then work with your team to come up with ways to position yourself to participate in the conversation, or even lead it. Without a doubt, those investing in communication strategies and shifting their product offerings now will emerge as leaders in their categories on the other side of this pandemic.
How we do business is changing for everyone, but the response from a marketing standpoint is similar: you don’t need a big ad budget to be authentic or connect with people.
Simply listen, strategize, and respond.