Lets just get it straight: the last few years should not be seen as anything other than a crisis. You will not, and should not, see any brand worth its salt openly proclaiming these life-changing times have been positive – that would be commercial suicide.
However there does exist an opportunity in the process of revitalisation, and it’s this that we’ve been concentrating on for all the brands we manage. To help illustrate this opportunity we need to look back at what happened when things first went wrong for many companies and see what responses they might have had, what worked and try to figure out why.
On a personal level, my company can trace the path of this recession back to a single month in 2008 when a large chunk of our private sector clients started to panic. As we looked across the industry we noted two new and opposing trends emerging: companies that chose to simply disappear from view and companies who kept their spending almost the same, but invested less in professional services and more on quantity of media.
In our opinion, the decision to save money by suspending all marketing activity equates to a ‘firesale’ strategy. Companies stopped telling people about their product or service and reduced the price to any potential customers that did happen to ‘stumble in’. This always results in a weakening of their brand position. When you leave the stage you remove yourself from the competition, any potential opportunity is lost and you rely on people remembering your brand values when you do come out the other side. Remember, a small voice in an empty room can still be heard.
For some companies the decision was made to suspend standard marketing practices and attempt to handle creative within the team. They cut corners on professional creative services and jumped headfirst on the social media trend, quickly setting up accounts on twitter and facebook, making blogs and buying beginners guides to SEO. It’s a popular misconception with all these various disciplines that they work because your clients are using them and they are free (or at least cheap), but the problem is always that there were lots of places to say things, and not much to say. Rather than being precious about your brand’s message these services soon fill with opinions on the latest football signing, the weather and what’s on the menu for lunch. Worse, these mediums can sometimes fill with endless links to boring press releases and display no opinions. If your customer didn’t want to read your printed newsletter before, putting the same content online will not help.
Now, more than ever before, companies need a good brand strategist on their side. A team of experienced professionals who will look at all your brand’s communications and help decipher which medium could work best for your specific offering. They will develop a really exciting message and help communicate it concisely and effectively to your individual customer’s needs. The really good ones will suggest money saving opportunities that will make your existing budget go further.
It is my view that at times like this, businesses need to be exacting with their message and precise with their communications.
Stop for a second and look around. Are your competitors still silent? If so then this is the time to shout. But shout the right message, at the right time, to the right people.
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