By Regay M. Hildreth, Founder & CEO of RMH Marketing & Media
As the owner of an advertising and marketing firm, it may seem a little self-serving & biased when I say how important it is to continue marketing your business during economic uncertainty. Working with over 300 clients over the past 18 years, the ups & downs have definitely shed some light, and let’s just say that I’ve seen it first-hand seeing clients rise and fall based on that one decision. While it may seem counterintuitive to invest in marketing when profit margins are tight, it is actually crucial to keep your business afloat and maintain market share. Many people view marketing as a luxury, something that can be cut to save money. However, this is a short-sighted approach that can have long-term consequences.
One of my favorite case studies that exemplifies this rationale is Coca-Cola and Pepsi. My late father-in-law, Jamie Hildreth, was at the Astros for over 30 seasons overseeing the Broadcasting department and large corporate brands’ sponsorships. His story telling was always over the top, my favorites of which I cannot share lol!!! However, this story was a memorable one as I moved through my media career growing my company. He worked with many corporate and successful brands, larger than life just like him, and Coca-Cola was one of them. He related the Coca-Cola brand to that of baseball, our national pastime, both of which have stood the test of time with incredible consumer loyalty. The proof is in the numbers, and it cannot lie. During the recession of 2008-2009, Coca-Cola increased its marketing spend by 6%. While this may seem like a risky move, it paid off for the company. Coca-Cola’s market share increased from 42.8% to 43.1% during that time, while its closest competitor, Pepsi, saw its market share decline from 31.7% to 30.8%.
Coca-Cola’s success during the recession can be attributed to several factors. First, the company continued to invest in brand-building campaigns that resonated with consumers. These campaigns emphasized the emotional connection that people have with Coca-Cola and helped to maintain brand loyalty even during tough times. Second, Coca-Cola was able to take advantage of lower advertising costs during the recession. By negotiating better rates with media outlets, the company was able to stretch its marketing budget further and reach more consumers.
So, what can you do to ensure that your business continues to grow and thrive regardless of the economic circumstances? First, it’s important to maintain your marketing efforts even when business is bleak. This may mean reallocating your budget to focus on lower-cost marketing tactics such as social media and email marketing, but it’s important to stay visible to your target audience.
Second, focus on building brand loyalty and emotional connections with your customers. People are more likely to stick with brands that they know and trust when they are watching their pocketbook. By investing in brand-building campaigns that emphasize your company’s values and mission, you can strengthen the bond between your brand and your customers.
Finally, be agile and adaptable. Economic downturns can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be able to pivot your marketing strategies as needed. I know the word ‘pivot’ was exhausted during COVID, but it gets my point across. Just keep a close eye on your metrics and adjust your tactics accordingly to ensure that you’re getting the best ROI.
Net of the net, I probably sound like a broken record to those of you that know me well, but marketing your business during uncertain times is not a luxury, but a necessity!!! By continuing to promote your business, you can maintain market share and position yourself for success when the economy rebounds. Look to successful companies like Coca-Cola as an example of how marketing can actually help your business thrive and stand the test of time!