Marketing success in a down economy. Yes, your business CAN!
The Coronavirus has brought almost everything to a screeching halt. Tough times indeed, but the final story has not yet been written. Fighting for the success of your business is CRITICAL!
The Great Depression was one of the hardest economic times for consumers and companies in American history. However, a few companies doubled down on their marketing and advertising. They adapted, and even developed new products/services during that time. That is to say, consumers still had options and choices to fit their budget.
No matter the economic climate, day of the week, time of the year – someone, somewhere, is still doing business. Shouldn’t YOUR business be out there to compete?
Sure, maybe people won’t replace their HVAC systems and buy add-ons like UV lights and extra filters, but there’s still repairs to be made. Maybe they will buy the add-on!
Windows will still need to be replaced. Construction of new homes and buildings will still take place. People will still need to see the dentist. Cars will need to be repaired or insured. Groceries will still be purchased. Shoes will still wear out. Grass will inevitably grow and lawns will need to be cut. Some of these businesses may be halted right now. Doesn’t matter, there will still be demand in due time. High demand!
Until then, read on about how to diversify…
Life will go on we will adapt. Money may not flow as freely as it has in the past few years, but it will still flow. Thinking about it, maybe we took everything we had for granted (which is a totally alternative topic.) However, consumers still need products! Let them know you are there and can get them what they need!
1. Proctor & Gamble
How did Proctor and Gamble beat the Depression? Things got tough when grocery customers started cutting their orders. Inventories piled up. P&G realized that even in a depression people would still need soap (again no matter the time, day, economic climate, someone somewhere is doing business.) So, customers decided they may as well buy from Procter and Gamble. Why? Because they saw them, and saw them often.
Instead of pulling back their advertising, P&G throttled up. The company researched and actively pursued new marketing avenues, including commercial radio broadcasts. One of these tactics involved sponsoring daily radio serials aimed at homemakers, the company’s core market. In 1933 P&G debuted its first “soap opera”, Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins. Women around the country quickly fell in love with the tales of the kind widow.
This program was so successful that P&G started cranking out similar programs to support its other brands. By 1939, the company was producing 21 of these so-called “soap operas.” In 1940, the company started its own production division for soap operas. By 1950, it made the first ongoing television soap opera, The First Hundred Years.
2. Martin Guitars
Like entertainment of the time, musical instruments would seem to be a vulnerable industry in a down economy. As a result, venerable acoustic guitar maker Martin made it through the Depression utilizing strategies that were deliberate and well thought out. Martin is known for some of the most high-end guitars in the world today. The company stuck to its principle of not giving high volume retailers discounts, which maintained its relationship with smaller dealers and cemented the company’s image as a fair manufacturer.
Martin also created an “entry level” line and began offering the new, less expensive models. They went on to enjoy great popularity. The guitar that comes to mind when someone says “acoustic guitar” is the “dreadnought” born out of necessity during The Great Depression.
Once again, marketing success in a down economy.
Ah, Breweries! Yes, money was tight, but brewer’s core product, beer, wasn’t even legal! Talk about having it BAD! During national Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, about half of the country’s breweries closed their doors. Alternatively, several hung in hoping and working for a repeal. How did these brewers make ends meet during the Great Depression when they couldn’t sell beer to a distressed population of people? Worse, people who didn’t have jobs? By diversifying.
And then diversifying some more…. And maybe even a little more…
Brewers started venturing out into other enterprises including running dairies, selling meat, and other agricultural enterprises. Brewers were also allowed to make “near beer” that had only trace amounts of alcohol. Breweries applied their expertise to soft drinks like ginger beer. Frank Yuengling, who headed the brewery of the same name outside of Philadelphia, remained confident that Prohibition was just a phase. He personally diversified widely, including a foray as a bank president and opening a dance hall.
In the end, waiting out the storm by diversifying (and maybe brewing some illicit beer on the side) turned out to be a sound marketing strategy. According to a survey done by the American brewing industry, eight of the 10 largest brewers in the U.S. are pre- Prohibition brands that survived through the Depression.
Coors Brewing Company also diversified and weathered the storm during the Great Depression. Good stuff! We all (beer lovers) appreciate this today! Check out more brewery success stories here: https://www.history.com/news/brewers-under-prohibition-miller-coors-busch-yuengling-pabst
Another example of marketing success in a down economy.
So, don’t say there’s not opportunity in a down market. Don’t say no one needs what I’m selling, or I can’t sell what I have. Use all of your resources and brainpower right now to come up with a plan.
We’re all going to take hits during this crisis, but take a minute and think through your business, your verticals, and your products. Can you diversify? Where can you create a new product line? How can you create a new avenue of marketing to drive demand for your product? While it won’t be easy, it’s certainly possible to succeed in a slumping economy.
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