“We have a philosophy and a strategy. When times are tough, you build share.”

 

“We have a philosophy and a strategy. When times are tough, you build share.” — Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Laffley

As this CEO of P&G points out, making it during a recession is largely about adopting a fearless attitude, a well thought-out plan and the courage to believe-in your approach, then combine them all and move boldly forward. 

 

Yes, this is coming from a (seemingly) recession-proof soap producer, however what they understand is something most businesses don’t. The fear that grips businesses in a recession is a massive opportunity.  During times of slowdown, the marketing landscape becomes less intense so there are less players competing, and advertising rates drop.  This means marketing messages are more easily noticed by consumers. This. In turn,  provides those brands that continue to invest, the opportunity to capture new mind — and market — share. 

 

This can have a two-fold effect on the category, because brands that continue to market themselves win-over their competitor’s customers and gain valuable momentum after the recovery. 

 

For instance, during the recession of The 70’s, Toyota was already offering a fuel efficient product line that complemented the high fuel prices of the day. Yet the industry was anything but recession-proof. (Who buys a new car when they don’t know how much longer they’ll have a job?) However, instead of cutting their advertising they stayed on the marketing offensive.  Shortly after the economy recovered in the mid seventies, Toyota went from the third to top import in the critical car-hungry market of the USA. 20-plus years later, they did what many once thought was the impossible: they overtook General Motors as the world’s largest car producer. 

 

Clean, clear-cut approaches to marketing during times of downturn can wash away competition and allow you to float to the top. Both during and after a recession.

Branding on Sale!

“It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return-on-investment at lower cost than during good economic times.”

— John A. Quelch, Professor, Harvard Business School

An ivory tower kind of guy who most of us small business people can’t relate too. But we can — in fact should — apply his wisdom. While Harvard’s Professor Quelch uses the word ‘advertising’, if we apply the broader term ‘marketing’ this wise quote still holds water.  Particularly these days. Economic online marketing opportunities abound, but for our money, nothing beats getting out there and getting in front of people sympathetic to, supportive of, or — best of all — advocating, your cause.

Word-of mouth is not only the lowest cost form of advertising, it’s the most effective. And in this rapidly evolving, morphing, and twittering digital time we find ourselves, it’s never been easier for one individual to reach and influence others.

The greatest investment to make word-of-mouth work for you is time. Time to do your job well. Time to spend listening to your customers. Time to improve what you do, and then — most relevant to this post — taking the time to talk about you, what you do and you can play a supportive, beneficial role in the lives of others.

If we are honest and authentic, we will be successful.

If others tell their friends about us, then we’re on our way to the top of our class.