In an ever-evolving world where uncertainty and crises feel like the new normal, corporate communications become pivotal. Now more than ever, we not only have to think carefully about how we use advertising budgets, but we also need to check whether the messages and tone of our corporate communications are still appropriate.
When a recession hits, companies risk seeing a drop in revenue. So what solutions can you adopt to take effective action?
The temptation is there to slash your marketing budget
A common approach in times of crisis is to proactively cut budgets, especially those for marketing and communications. However, communications, and marketing initiatives more generally, shouldn’t be seen as a cost factor, but rather as an investment and a driver of corporate value.
Studies by market research agencies, such as Kantar (previously Millward Brown), have shown that when companies cut their advertising budgets during times of crisis, and their share of voice — their advertising share compared to that of competitors — is smaller than their market share for a prolonged period, they put themselves at high risk of losing a chunk of their market share.
This means that brands that are less present than their competitors become less relevant to consumers, and this loss of relevance can only be recovered at a later time with substantial investment.
Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time
- Henry Ford
Countercyclical marketing: a golden opportunity
Adopting a countercyclical strategy (that bucks the market trends) could prove to be an alternative to cutting your marketing budget. A GfK study analyzing the correlation between the strategies of advertisers during the 2008 financial crisis and their results showed that companies that didn’t cut their advertising spending increased their market share by 18.5% on average.
Positioning: a safe harbor in stormy seas
If companies define their positioning properly, with a clear vision and mission, they’ll be in a position to automatically identify goals to pursue without veering off course in times of temporary uncertainty.
Maintaining a steady course becomes especially vital during downturns or hard times, when businesses should stay true to their identity, sticking to their communications strategy instead of succumbing to fear and panic.
Do more with less: optimizing your marketing budget
But what if your company’s economic situation forces you to make a budget cut? And would a cutback inevitably result in lower quality advertising output?
Not necessarily. Optimizing the budget you have available may be the way forward. After all, a company’s marketing resources are often distributed among too many teams and used inefficiently. Budget cuts can offer an opportunity to break away from rigid organizational structures (marketing department, communications department, PR department, etc.), encouraging a company-wide approach to corporate communications.
When all stakeholders take a company-wide approach, fewer resources are usually needed to achieve common goals.
In addition, times of crisis may call not only for different advertising measures, but also for different messages. Companies should listen even more attentively to the concerns of their customers and how they are feeling during such times. Coming up with the right messages to address these concerns can strengthen the company-customer relationship, boosting your brand image as a result.
Investing in long-term branding
Sales performance and short-term strategies are two factors that management typically focuses on the most, especially in times of great uncertainty, in view of the immediate impact on the company’s cash flow. Nevertheless, companies should continue to invest sufficient resources in branding and, therefore, in their long-term marketing goals.
Branding has the power to evoke and use brand-related emotions swiftly, speeding up the persuasion and sales process as a result. This gives long-established brands a considerable advantage. In other words, well-structured branding can help companies connect more efficiently with consumers, ensuring a good conversion rate even in times of uncertainty.
Form versus content: should we judge a book by its cover?
When companies revisit their advertising messages in times of crisis, form is just as important as content. It is essential to adjust the tone of voice of your advertising so that it chimes with people’s emotions and concerns in that specific period.
An inappropriate or insensitive tone can seriously damage your company’s reputation, driving customers away
In a nutshell, communicating in times of great uncertainty, such as these, is a challenge that requires a strategic, sensible approach. Maintaining a long-term vision, optimizing your budget, listening carefully to your customers and adopting an appropriate tone are all key to your success.
We’ve complemented our considerable branding expertise — cultivated since 2006 — with the technological support of HubSpot software, which provides all the tools you need for marketing, sales and after-sales on just one platform. By monitoring and evaluating the interactions of leads in the database, HubSpot CRM Platform enables you to understand your audience on a deeper level, allowing you to plan highly personalized communications.
With our Performance Branding method, we’re therefore able to provide effective, comprehensive consulting to support our clients, even in times of crisis. We help companies navigate the change and seize the opportunities that uncertainty can offer.
Want to discover the possibilities for your company?