In uncertain economic climates like these, both consumers and businesses alike need to watch how they allocate their expenses. Before a consumer will part with their hard-earned dollars, they need to feel comfortable that what they are purchasing has the appropriate amount of value for the asking price. “Value” looked at in the context of marketing is defined here as: the relationship between the consumer’s current expectation of quality of the purchase to the current purchasing price.
With the decline of the consumer confidence index and a recovery not projected for another two or more years, businesses will need to not only change their marketing messages to emphasize the idea of value, their marketing and sales strategies must also embrace the concept of value. Consumers will be hunkering down for the long-haul—spending conservatively.
It is extremely important in these tough times for businesses to concentrate on building and reinforcing brand equity. Brand equity is built over time through tangible assets (logo design consistency, name recognition, messaging) all utilized to influence and shape the public’s perception of the brand. Reinforcing brand equity requires developing a strong and consistent image of the brand. Keep in mind that it’s much faster and easier to knock down a brand than it is to build one up.
What should a business do until the economic environment improves? Continue to spend money promoting your products and services; just be smarter about how you invest those dollars. Limit the amount of scatter shooting in your marketing and advertising campaigns, be more critical of the status quo, investigate and research the best way to reach your target audience and relay clear messages. The value of the marketing dollar spent is equal to the effectiveness of your campaign. Make sure your tactical decisions back up the strategic goal of building brand equity.
One of the many things my great-grandmother taught me was if you live thoughtfully and support others, you can live a full, happy life. Sugi Iwasaki lived through a number of financially difficult times in history including two world wars and the US Depression. Through all of that, she was the bread-winner for her immediate family and was also able to send money back to her extended family in Japan for many years by working as a seamstress and sewing teacher. She lived a full life of 98 years, continuously supporting what was important to her by thinking long-term and being value-oriented.
When I work with clients, I keep my great-grandmother’s lessons in mind. Plexipixel was built on the fundamental belief that we are successful when our clients are successful. It’s our job to have our clients’ backs and help them build their success by reminding them that brand equity is built over time and maintained through thoughtful management. Our clients continue to work with us year after year because we ask the difficult questions before we start each project:
- Who is your audience?
- What are your goals?
- What is your marketing strategy that will bring people to this awesome website, advergame, widget, animation…?
- Does this project support your current brand strategy?
- How does this project fall in line with your overall marketing and advertising strategy?
If you’re unable to answer the questions above, it might be time to rethink how you’re spending your marketing and advertising dollars. Or on the other hand, if the agency you’re working with doesn’t ask these questions before they dive into your project, it might be time to look for a new agency—one that will partner with you to make sure that you’re both around (and healthy) for the long haul like my great-grandmother.