In Alberta we are currently facing one of the most challenging business environments in over 30 years. We are probably all saying that if we are not in a recession, it sure feels like one. The challenge then for companies, brands, and their agencies is how to continue to drive brand marketing efforts when budgets are tightened up. What you will find in this blog is four points of advice based on our experience in guiding companies and brands through poor economies or difficult times. Hopefully you will find some value here for your business and if you would like to discuss anything captured in the blog, contact me at at you convenience.

1. Protect Your High Value Customers
In a poor economy, retaining your brand’s most profitable customers is priority number one. Research indicates that loyal customers to your brand spend up to 20 times more than the average customer. Start by determining who these customers are, and then do what you can to best cater to them during this time. You may consider some type of initiative that this type of customer values and which also shows your love for them. This is the perfect time to implement a loyalty program targeted at these customers who really keep your business in business.

2. Close On Those Prospects That Are Ready To Buy From You
Prospects ready to buy or “At The Decision Point” are your next most valuable target after existing customers. How well do you know your customers journey along the path to purchase? What do you know and how well have you formalized what the path looks like when the customer is in your sales funnel? Have you documented each step once they are in the funnel and do you know where each of your prospects are within the funnel? Have you clearly articulated accountability and methodolgy for each step in order to progress you prospects through the stages efficiently and with the highest level of conversion possible? Do you have a formalized process “To Close” on a lead if you are B2B or if B2C is your product or service, is it positioned in a way that it stands out and is made easy to find and purchase?

When consumer confidence begins to wane, the purchase decisions start to take longer and customers can get scared off easily. All of your communication including your digital and traditional presence need to prove your brand is one that can be trusted and stands behind what it sells in order to calm the customer down and allow them to make the best purchase decision with you.

3. Best Budget Investment and Channel Choice
All decision makers for the marketing budget are on high alert right now; in fact many companies look at marketing budgets as discretionary and not essential to the business. Most companies in this category will greatly reduce or completely discontinue investing in their brand marketing efforts. We have seen this approach contribute to the company’s lower revenue and profit during more difficult times. Data shows that 60% of brands “going dark” with their brand marketing efforts see a significant decline in at least one key relationship metric after just six months. The case studies for this are endless and range from automobile sales to shampoo purchases.

For those that continue to invest in brand marketing, the great news is that typically the advertising space has less noise in it due to people shrinking their budgets. Also, many of the channel choices available have more space and cost less to leverage, so you can get more bang for your brand marketing buck.

It is important to measure and analyze all channels of communication you are using at this time and determine how each channel contributes to your strategy around awareness, consideration, activation, and loyalty. Obviously, digital needs to be optimized and is the first place to go. A great starter is: do you know what search terms prospects are using to find your company, brand, product or service? Once you know this, test these terms in searches and see where your brand shows up for each search term. If you are not on page one of the search you are not on the internet, is what they say. Next determine what SEO and SEM strategies can be implemented immediately with the goal of driving up your offering for the search terms your target is using to either find you or your competitors?

We recently conducted this audit for a customer and are working with them on a mission to own the category when people are searching online for them. We are also working with them to provide a solid and aligned digital experience for their audience through all of their digital assets making sure the content has value and resonates with the target.

4. Better Message = Less Activation $$$
The brands with the most succinct message wins. How to craft your message in a way that it is instantly memorable is the goal and can save your marketing budget, while delivering better revenue and profit. The tighter and more memorable your message, the less often people need to see or hear it to remember you when it matters most- when they are ready to buy. We do a lot of work with clients in this area and they tell us that the resulting messages they receive not only help them in all marketing tactics chosen, but also inspire and align everyone within the company.

Characteristics we look for when crafting the message for our clients:

  • It’s memorable, it should be 4 words or less, and be unexpected
  • It speaks to what your customer cares about – what’s in it for me
  • It’s authentic, don’t over promise and under deliver
  • It captures the real purpose of your brand and business and how you help customers differently than competitors
  • It is scalable and yet defining, don’t pigeon hole your brand with this message, but also don’t resort to the word “solutions” and say nothing as a result

Some of the best messages that capture these characteristics and that we probably all remember are:

  • Nike “Just Do It”
  • California Milk Processor Board “Got Milk?”
  • Texas “Don’t Mess With Texas”
  • Apple “Think Different”

As you step back from your business and determine how you will continue to navigate through this turbulent time, consider your brand marketing efforts and how to get more with your investment. Hopefully some of these tips will help start some of your planning when it comes to your branding.

Please share anything you have done for your business or client in this economy that has proven to be a more effective investment of the brand marketing efforts, by emailing