The more times change, the more they stay the same.  A benefit of having 25+ years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry allows me to look back at previous economic hard times and reflect on how we weathered those storms.

I have experienced a lot and this current economic environment has a lot of the same look and feel as three previous economic downturns. The 9/11 attacks in 2001, the banking crisis in 2008-09, and then the most recent COVID-19 pandemic all wreaked havoc in the advertising marketplace.  But the strong- willed and well-planned marketers made it through those rough waters. At this point, inflation is causing US adults to reduce their spending in areas like dining out, travel, and entertainment, with many calling a return to the pandemic ‘playbook’.

Staying the Course in an Economic Downturn

During all three crises, the strategy leads at our agency, in partnership with senior clients, all had to plan how to adjust their goals and objectives when the economy went upside down.  Many asked, “Should we go dark” or “How about slowing our spend”?  I can tell you with confidence that companies that came into the economic crisis on solid ground and with a strong balance sheet, who stayed the course and did not cut their marketing budgets, came out the other end in much better shape, and most rebounded even faster than most.

Why is that you ask? Why stay the course?  You need to keep your brand stable in your customers’ eyes. In past downturns, consumer goods companies that were able to increase their share of voice by maintaining or increasing their advertising spending captured market share from weaker rivals.  But you must remain nimble and make adjustments to your marketing strategy where and when it makes the most sense.  The Harvard Business Review stated during the banking crisis in 2008-09, “Companies need to understand the evolving consumption patterns and fine-tune their strategies accordingly. It’s critical to track how customers reassess priorities, reallocate funds, switch brands, and redefine value”.

It’s important to monitor your cost and your staffing, but you need to keep supporting your brand.  It is important for product offerings to adjust to shifting demand as they are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession.  You may even capture some share!! One marketing CMO commented, “Marketing isn’t optional—it’s a ‘good cost,’ essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others”.

Having the Right Partner is Key

At Marketsmith, when there are economic changes or crises in the world, our ability to spring into action is second to none. When you handle 100% of your media buying in-house it affords you the ability to act quickly and be agile in a time when there are a lot of factors at play. We’re here to help you navigate the uncertainty and provide solid recommendations to help your brand stay the course.