The Marketing Maven Linda Duke
Play to Win in Hard Economic Times
A simple shift in marketing strategy can pay off during a recession.
During periods of economic turmoil, business owners often
react by slashing their marketing budgets. But corporate
missions center on delivering value to shareholders, an
objective that applies during recessions and prosperous times.
Without sales growth, creating, sustaining and increasing
value is virtually impossible. Savvy marketers perceive such a
challenge as an opportunity to set their brands apart from the
competition, achieve increased visibility and emerge stronger
when things return to normal.
Economic downturns come and go, yet, strangely enough,
many businesses that have been rocked by one downturn
appear to be unprepared for the next. Here are three key
questions to consider as you attempt to keep your pizzeria
profitable in today’s less-than-ideal economic climate:
1. What is life like during a downturn? For the most
part, business owners hunker down, conserving resources
for the fight ahead. The release of new products may be
delayed. During these times, leadership becomes very
important. Leadership includes good communication, the
ability to teach, strategic insight and a readiness to commit
to a course of action.
2. How do I successfully negotiate my way through
a downturn? Pay close attention to changes in the
marketplace, learn from your frontline staff and question
the continuing relevance of your strategy and resource
base. Be realistic—see the world as it is, talk with your staff
about the future and how to achieve your goals, be honest,
have the courage to trust your employees and reduce risk
by coaching your staff.
3. What do my customers want? When faced with penny-pinching consumers, it helps to shift your ad campaign
from messages like luxury and status enhancement to
efficiency and value.
A troubled economy offers the perfect opportunity to
grow closer to your customers and to identify and better
understand their attitudes, desires and needs. It’s also the
ideal time to build trust with your customer base and make
your brand the best, most reasonable and obvious choice,
even for the more image-conscious or emotionally oriented
Check out this list of additional recommendations, culled
from the American Marketing Association and the World
Advertising Research Center, for coping with economic
• Stay in the game. As your competitors cut back on
their marketing efforts, your “voice” will be more easily
heard if you continue to promote your own product
aggressively. Your brand will attain higher visibility
for less money and will come out of the recession with
• Get more than your share. Share becomes more
important in tough times, and benefits accrue for
those pizzerias with the resources—and willingness—
to outspend the competition. In other words, when
everyone is struggling, the strong businesses become
• Provide better value. Businesses that provide better
value for their customers’ money can become more
profitable during economic downturns and grow faster
• Strategic flexibility is crucial. Economic downturns
give managers the opportunity to look closely at their
organizations and reconnect with their markets through
bold and innovative strategies.
• Spend more. Business operators that boost spending
in economic downturns generally improve share and
increase their profits. Those that increase spending
significantly may have to absorb short-term drops in
their return on investment but can ultimately gain share
and greatly improve their positions—and profitability—
for the future.
• Strike while the iron is cold. By focusing on driving
brand awareness, operators can build momentum and
emerge from hard times with increased market share.
• Good times always follow bad. Taking action during
difficult economic times provides a foundation for staying
ahead of the competition when the economy improves.