At this point, there can be no doubt that there has been an economic downturn–it’s hit everyone. People are tightening budgets at home, either for fear of layoffs or to offset those that have already happened. Companies used to winning the big contracts are settling for project work to keep revenue on the books to keep their employees in their jobs. Whether or not a breaking point in these conditions is near, confidence, consumer spending habits, and checks and balances have changed the landscape for marketers.
We are not without the tools to keep our jobs; although, we may still be without the executive buy in to be truly effective. Clients and employers are increasing looking for ROI metrics. Everyone wants more for less.
Social media is still relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional spending on marketing, advertising and public relations, but what it lacks in cost it makes up for in time. To be engaged effectively in the blogosphere, Twitter and beyond, you have to invest the time in building those relationships before you’ll see any return.
Marketing is an investment; both in future new customers and in customer retention. In a recession, with people clutching tighter to their pocketbooks, listening to their concerns in social media and in customer support situations provides people with a reason to remain loyal. Make it easy for an existing customer to ask, “Why would I want to adjust to a new vendor or product when I already know how this one works?”
When you’re constructing or reevaluating existing marketing plans for this fiscal climate, there are a few things you want to consider:
Ask yourself: what are you concerned about at home these days?
- Is it harder to put food on the table?
- Are you working more to ensure your job?
- Are you planning for emergency funds?
Can you include these pain points in your marketing (hint: without being or seeming manipulative)?
- Banks are shifting advertising messages away from credit and loans to talk more about savings–because it’s what people are looking to do now. (Example of BofA’s ad below.)
- Think of Depression Cooking: in these videos, a sweet grandmother shares her experiences from the Great Depression by walking viewers through the recipes she grew up eating. For all intents and purposes, these videos provide inexpensive ways (such as Pasta and Peas, Egg Drop Soup and Poorman’s Meal) to feed a family.
For many of us in the marketing trenches, we can’t change the product. We can, however, change the story we tell about it. In the banking example, instead of altering the institution’s credit offerings, the company is simply focusing the outward-facing marketing messages towards the savings side of the business. There is demand for these types of services, and banks have the opportunity to tap into that demand. Clara, the grandmother behind Depression Cooking, offers a cheaper way to put food on the table.
What will you do for your customers in this recession?
Sandy Kalik is a social media aficionado and general manager of Media Awaken. By day, she advises startups, non-profits and socially responsible companies on the practice of social media, by night she dabbles in retail, web design, and yoga instruction. She blogs at Sandying (http://sandying.blogspot.com), tweets @skalik and can be reached by email at sandy.kalik (at) yahoo.com.