In an era when budgets are under greater scrutiny than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly important for Marketing departments to justify spend and demonstrate their impact on the bottom line. Gone are the days when companies were happy to allocate budget to large scale advertising campaigns without ensuring it reached their target audience and met specific business objectives.
So why should companies continue to market themselves and what happens when companies take a break from marketing? Is advertising less effective when times are tough? And are different messages to consumers called for?
In the Great Depression of the 1930s, there were two major breakfast cereal manufacturers in the United States – Post, the market leaders at the time, and Kellogg’s. During this time, Post behaved as many companies do and took the more frugal approach, seeking to maintain their position. Kellogg’s took the brave step of increasing their marketing budget and launched Tony the Tiger telling the nation “They’re grrrreat!” The American public bought into the brand selling optimism and Kellogg’s achieved substantial growth, overtaking Post to become the leading breakfast cereal manufacturer.
Not all businesses have the luxury of increasing spend when times are tough but a few lessons can be taken from Kellogg’s experience. They saw an opportunity at a time when competitor marketing spend was unlikely to increase and used this as a chance to ensure their voice was heard. Their messaging was upbeat and positive which helped position Kellogg’s as a brand that people would want to be associated with. And the fact that they maintained their position on consumers’ radar helped them appear stable and reliable.
So how do you influence consumers in tough times? Engaging with your customers is more important and easier than ever with the increase of digital channels. Word of mouth advertising can now take place on a larger scale thanks to the advent of social media where referrals and recommendations take place on a daily basis. Which means brands can find out more easily than ever where their customers are and what they’re saying about them.
There will always be a role for large scale brand advertising to engage with a mass audience but by integrating with digital and direct marketing, an advertiser can more easily gain measurable results, insights and more effectively demonstrate the impact of their Marketing spend on a company’s bottom line.