Why You Should Never Cut Marketing and Ad Spending During a Crisis
The current global pandemic is unprecedented for individuals and businesses around the globe. As stores close and consumers retreat to their homes, many firms are contracting their spending in hopes of weathering an economic disaster.
But many companies are going about this all wrong.
Marketing and advertising are some of the first items on the chopping block, and it makes sense. If your marketing expenses can't generate the same ROI as they can when there isn't a crisis, then you're wasting money, right?
Wrong. Marketing is crucial during a crisis, and we're going to explain why. Then, we'll tell you some changes you can make to reduce your costs without sacrificing brand awareness.
A Slippery Slope
Surviving a crisis leaves businesses with just two options. They must either cut costs or increase sales.
And when the economy contracts, most businesses assume that they cannot increase sales. So, they start to cut.
When companies cut marketing first, they effectively ensure that they will not increase sales. Not only that, but they guarantee that sales will continue to decrease. If the situation isn't rectified soon, more cuts will need to follow:
First marketing and ad spending go, and then development, then inventory, etc. And before you know it, layoffs have begun.
Cutting marketing puts you on a fast track to insolvency but strangling revenue. It's like punching holes in your lifeboat.
Maintaining marketing only to barely keep yourself afloat is a bit bleak. But it's not all bad.
Crises bring new opportunity, and creative marketers can capture public interest and actually boost sales.
Companies like Netflix, Kroger, and Charmin are enjoying a golden age. But even the hardest-hit industries have opportunities to generate income.
Let's look at the airline industry, which many assume is dead in the water.
American Airlines is offering 10 miles per $1 donation to The Red Cross. While AA won't generate income now, they are providing a strong incentive for customers to fly American when they return to the skies.
EasyJet took a different direction and is offering all flights at 39 euros for a limited time. Of course, no one is flying now. But EasyJet is allowing customers to book in advance up to February 28, 2021. Many will likely take advantage of extra-cheap bookings for the holidays, providing EasyJet with much-needed income in the short term.
Apart from being creative, keeping your marketing efforts strong will give your brand a huge boost if your competitors cut their marketing budgets (and they likely will).
Maintaining your marketing budget during a crisis is easier said than done. And we're definitely not recommending that you continue with business as usual. You will need to adapt to make the most of your marketing efforts. Here are some tips:
- Find your audience: During a crisis, your customers will not be where you normally find them. Do some research to find out how to best get your ads in front of their eyes (Hint: They're all online.)
- Build your web presence: When everyone's stuck inside, the battleground becomes the internet. Beef up your SEO, allocate funds to Facebook ads, get your blog up to date, and push lead generation.
- Incorporate stock footage: Once you have your leads, give the people what they want--video content. Many brands will not be making videos now due to social distancing measures, but you can use stock videos to do this effectively and affordably. Just a few videos will generate a ton of engagement on social media, YouTube, emails, and landing pages now that everyone is at home and online pretty much all day long.
- Partner up: Solidarity during a crisis is mutually beneficial to all involved, and the optics are amazing. This is especially easy for small businesses selling to local clients. If you're a hairdresser whose business has been forced to close, why not team up with the still-open pizzeria? Send up coupons with every delivery and give the pizzeria a cut for every redemption.
- Use goodwill: Your customers want to know how you're addressing the crisis, and not just for their wellbeing but for the good of society. Do something that earns their respect and your brand will earn increased trust and awareness.
This crisis will spell disaster for many companies, but for others, it will provide a unique opportunity for growth. What path will your business follow? To avoid a slippery slope and keep your customers engaged, maintain a healthy marketing budget and adapt your strategy to the changes that each day brings.