With a possible recession headed our way, it is only normal to wonder what steps to take to protect your business.You might be asking yourself, “How can I continue to grow through the next recession?” or even “What corners should I be cutting this next year?”
But as Dan Ogilvy, the infamous “Father of Advertising,” once said
“When times are good you should advertise.
When times are bad you MUST advertise.”
It’s not a new concept, yet it’s almost always an uncomfortable one…one that takes a little creativity, too (more on that in Step #4). But before we dive in. If you’re reading this and you’ve already decided, “It’s impossible to do well in this economy,” then just give up and close the doors. I’m serious. Stop reading. You’re done. BUT, if you think you CAN do something about it and if you believe me, well – we will carry on.
Step #1: Leverage
After the 2008 recession, Villanova Professor John Pearce said, “Recessions are a period of opportunity. During recessions, large companies abandon marginally profitable customers, and small businesses can get those customers.”
Of course, what’s “marginally profitably” for one company is very profitable for another, so the customers one company ignores might just become your golden goose.
Take Sam’s Club for example.They’re all still marketing heavily. I think I get at least 1-2 postcards in the mail from Sam’s club every month.
So, is it working? You bet it is. Even with all the shutdowns, Sam’s Club saw an 11% increase in sales in 2020! AdAge said it perfectly, “After many years lagging Costco in growth, Sam’s Club has matched or exceeded its rival in comparable store sales.”
That’s right. Sam’s Club is seeing surges in membership and snatching customers from Costco left and right. In the middle of a pandemic.
That’s the beauty of low-hanging fruit. Or the customers that Dan Ogilvy calls an “opportunity.” Be like Sam’s Club. Leverage the losses of other companies, and watch your own profits soar.
Step #2: Promote
A Morril survey of 23 products over the span of five years showed that the value of EVERY product went up…EVEN DURING THE 2008 RECESSION. Why? Because they continued to market their products THROUGH that recession. Further studies of the last SIX recessions reveal the same results. Companies that maintain (or even increase) their marketing budgets see MUCH greater profits than the companies that cut back.
The absolute WORST thing you can do is to stop advertising in the midst of a recession.
In a time when there seems to be a lot of fear and irrationality, you must rise above the noise and make rational and logical decisions that will ensure a more favorable outcome when the crisis is over.
Improve your strategy. Improve your process. Promote more. Create more sales. But never, never cut your marketing dollars. Instead, benefit from the companies who do make that mistake, and fill the void of YOUR market that they leave behind.
Step #3: Go Direct
It takes about eight seconds to lose interest in an advertisement. And that number is even lower online, through Facebook or Instagram ads. That’s why 70% of customers still prefer direct mail over online advertising, even in 2021.
Look at NatureBox for example. It’s an ecommerce business that delivers natural snacks to the door of its customers. It’s a great offer and a convenient product for small businesses who want to feed their employees healthy snacks. But the company struggled to gain initial sales…
So, how did they finally move the needle? Direct mail marketing. They sent out 50,000 postcards to a targeted list. They included a simple offer and a promo code.
Then, boom! 35% of people who received the mail became customers!! That’s a whopping 500% increase over their online sales!
And the company saw an overall 60% increase in net revenue. Can direct mail marketing still work in a predominantly digital world?…NatureBox proves that it can.