I’ve seen so many articles lately about how people need to stop worrying and just go about business as normal, I’ve seen articles telling companies to increase spending. It isn’t as bad as it seems, and to ignore what’s going on. That this really isn’t a worst case scenario.
Last fall I had gotten a bit sick, but I wouldn’t take a sick day (those are for when I feel too good to go to work). After a day or two I started feeling better… and then I got a rash. Being the internet addict I am, of course I went to Web MD and self diagnosed myself with scarlet fever. I remember thinking “didn’t that go the way of small pox, polio, and bonnets?”
When I awoke the next day it was worse, much worse. The rash had spread to my face, neck,torso and both arms. So I decided to consult a professional. The nurse took my vitals, the doctors looked inside my top most orifices, gave me a good look over and then announced. “You have scarlet fever”. Wow.
So there I was, a model of my own worse case scenario that I had never thought would happen to me. This is relevant.
Over and over I keep seeing this quote pop up (I’ve even used in a presentation)
“Maintain marketing spending. it is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.” Harvard Business School “Working Knowledge,” Marketing Your Way through a Recession. March 2008
The quote is absolutely right, those who market themselves more will gain more exposure than those who start to pull themselves back from the public eye, that’s just common sense. However it fails to add in the second part of that equation. Budgeting smarter and strategically redirecting funds. Just because you’re marketing doesn’t mean you’re actually being heard.
For a lot of people this is their scarlet fever, their worst case scenario.
We see it happening left and right these days, companies reducing headcount instead of redirecting funds. What would happen if instead of pumping even more money into a national television ad campaign your company hired a social media consultant / agency to show your employees how to effectively leverage the tools available and engage your customers? Were the old ways really working that effectively now? Were you able to target who you wanted to very effectively?
Marketing more, or even just the same amount, will help you come out on top in a down economy. Marketing smarter and bringing in tools to be more effective will help even more. Making your customers into brand champions will pay off in spades as they do your WOM marketing for you. Becoming more transparent and trustworthy in times like this will resonate with people and they will remember you when the good times return.
This is the time for innovation, bootstrapping and smart moves.
Scared? You should be. There are hundreds of tools out there and it’s difficult to know what your employees know and how to get them to use the tools and who even wants to. It’s a lot of work finding out where your customers are at online and listening to conversations and monitoring your brand.
That’s why there are people like myself who eat, breath, live, and study this stuff. Social media consultants and agencies that have logged the time studying, and conversing with like minded people and think about new ways to utilize the vast sea of tools labeled as social media.
This is not the time to go to sleep thinking it won’t happen to you just to wake up with scarlet fever. It’s the time to engage your customers in new ways and discover the ROI of social media for yourself.
Josh “Shua” Peters