Fear and uncertainty have exhausted business owners the last few years. As a recession hangs over our heads, we’re faced with rising costs and difficult choices. We’re getting less for our money — a survey showed that consumers are switching to cheaper brands and cutting back on splurges. This often leads to companies cutting back on their marketing spend.
In times like these, we’re reminded of the sage advice of Philip Kotler, the Father of Modern Marketing: “Companies pay too much attention to the cost of something. They should be more worried about the cost of doing nothing.”
In the 1990-91 recession, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s decision to drop its advertising and promotion budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%.
Studies have shown that direct mail advertising increases during a recession. And your current customer base is your recession salvation. “The future of marketing resides in marketing databases, through which we know enough about each client to make relevant and personalized offers to each one of them,” Kotler says.
Are you using the very product that you sell, direct mail, to nurture your own customers with discounts or promotions to keep them coming back? They are riding this bumpy economy bus right along with you. Brands can project the image of corporate stability during challenging times. Let them know that you are there and you care. While you may identify as B2B, you’re still P2P; people selling to people. Remember that, and they will remember you.
As people get more choosy with their ad spend, the need to prove return on investment becomes more vital. Ensure direct mail results are being reported using mechanisms so that responses can be easily tracked and measured, such as QR codes, call tracking numbers, and Informed Delivery integration.
Become a valuable resource on how to save money on direct mail campaigns by learning about the USPS promotions and postage discounts. There are a few still available this year such as the 4% Discount from the Informed Delivery Promotion, the 3% discount from the Personalized Color Transpromo, and the 2% Discount from the Mobile Shopping Promotion. These incremental savings really add up, plus the integrated technology increases ROI, so it’s a win-win!
In addition to better reporting and postage discounts, learn how to implement better targeting. The riches are in the niches! When the economy slows and businesses trim marketing budgets, marketers turn to more cost-effective and targeted forms of promotion. While fewer funds are allocated to marketing across the board, the proportion devoted to direct mail grows because of it’s specific targeting power. And with today’s digital technologies to enhance direct mail campaigns, that targeting power has proliferated. Wherever your customers are spending their time, from YouTube and Facebook, to Google and Instagram, your ads will be there to reinforce the direct mail messaging.
Whether it’s your clients who are talking about cutting back to save money, or that little voice inside your own head, tell them all to believe in the long term investment of advertising and never take a day off from communicating with your best possible customers. Like Henry Ford said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”
Perhaps the best quote about advertising in a recession came from Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. When asked, “What do you think about a recession?” he responded, “I thought about it and decided not to participate.” If you want your customers to have a positive mindset about advertising in a recession, you need to adopt the same positive mindset. Nothing is permanent. No matter how bad a situation is, it will change. Every recession is followed by prosperity. Chin up and push forward!