The Organic Marketer

Smarter Marketers Look for Innovation During a Recession

Posted in Social Marketing by Jim Tome on April 14, 2008
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As of mid-March 2008, fully 75% of all Americans think the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to a national poll by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. And the report, “Communications Industry Forecast & Report 2004” from the research firm, VSS, stated that the last recession in 2001 saw a drop of 9% in overall advertising compared to the previous year, with online advertising spending dropping 27% over two years before recovering. Certainly, these are dark times for advertising.

Or are they?

What can marketers using the Internet, interactive and communications technology expect this time around? Well, you might be inclined to say “more of the same,” but you’d likely be wrong.

In a down market, promoting a brand is a challenge as consumers find it harder to go from “I know that product” to “I’m buying that product” when they’re worried about cash flow, job security and the buying power of their dollar.

But advanced media programs target the decision to buy rather than building brand awareness. Increasing engagement with consumers is much more likely to generate sales than simple brand reinforcement. And it’s social marketing that incorporates community-building and other social behaviors that are cost-effective, much more results-driven and have a measurable impact on consumers early in the purchasing cycle.

Strategies to consider in this dire economic situation include:

Embrace e-mail marketing. If you’re not already communicating via e-mail on a frequent and consistent schedule, now is the time to champion this low-cost and highly customizable media. And e-mail marketing often targets existing customers and prospects familiar with your brand. These market segments are much more likely to listen to your message in a recession than new prospects.

Don’t give up the search game. In fact, since search-based advertising is so targeted and specific, this is one arena where you can expect to find more competition. If your search strategies don’t include negative keyword buys, zip code targeting and A/B testing, it’s time to call in an expert.

Shift to economical alternatives. If your branding message was dependent on high-cost traditional media such as television, radio and display advertising such as newspaper and magazine ads, consider shifting to online video and Flash ads. You’ll get at least the same visual impact — if not more — at a more economical cost and the added benefit of more targeted presentation.

The “killer app” of recession marketing.

We’ve presented three great marketing strategies you may already be familiar with and deploying. But there’s one concept that almost everyone knows about but few know how to implement effectively — social marketing.

Social networks utilize the inherent trust and interaction of groups with common interests. While this method of marketing tends to be counter to the CPM model of banner advertising and search marketing, it also depends on an abundant resource — groups of consumers — rather than one that is more scarce — advertising dollars.

And in a recession, social marketing programs that feature a measurable, results-driven strategy are effective because:

  • they leverage the voice of individual consumers interacting with others who share common interests,
  • they target consumers in the middle of the buying process more effectively and
  • they are cheap to run (in relation to more “new” media and certainly traditional media sources).

So, what’s the next step?

As fate would have it, DC Interactive has a rather unique strategy in development that utilizes many of the ideas presented in this article. In fact, we’ve shown you barely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative Advanced Media Marketing Program and never fear recessions — and other scary economic situations — again.