We asked our Fellows the question you all need an answer to. What advice would you offer marketers on surviving the credit crunch?
Focus, focus, focus. Do what you do brilliantly and look for the opportunities that only come when the economy is tough.
James Bidwell, CEO, Visit London
“The three key words are strategy, argument and evidence. The strategy might be to focus on particular products or segments that will be relatively strong in a slow market, or just to keep going while being tactically opportunistic, or even ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ – using cheaper media to pick up market share against weaker rivals who have to cut back. The argument and evidence are to persuade the CEO and CFO to back the strategy. More than ever, you’ll need good metrics to support your proposals.”
Patrick Barwise, Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing, London Business School
Think like a challenger.
Adam Morgan, CEO eatbigfish
‘This is a time when consumer perceptions of value will be shifting significantly, but how they shift will differ depending on the category you are in. Make sure you understand the new mindsets people are bringing to their purchase decisions and take any steps you can to position your brand in a way that turns these changes into opportunities rather than threats.’
Andy Bird, managing director, Brand Learning
1/ Personal survival. Stop talking about brand building inside your organisation, talk about sales.
2/ Getting consumers to buy. Reality marketing is always required in a cooling economy; here is the product, this is the price, this is why it is better than the competition, buy it from here.
3/ Don’t damage the future. My only other word of caution is be careful not to damage your brand by driving it to a price lead low value proposition to gain short term sales. When the economy turns for the better, the consumer will not forget what you have done and suddenly pay more.
Simon Thompson, marketing director, Lastminute.com
1. This is not the time to bang on about how marketing can drive growth – just get on and do it. Focus on the business challenges, not on justifying your own function. Don’t talk about marketing or brand building – talk about what you’re doing to grow revenue/ sales/ customer acquisition & retention instead.
2. Keep it simple! People haven’t got time or energy for trying to understand complex marketing speak or complex ideas. That’s true of your consumers and equally true of your colleagues inside the business.
3. Get really clear about the one or two reasons people buy your brand, its key functional and emotional benefits, and don’t lose sight of them whatever pressure you come under to cut costs.
4. Cut your messaging spend if you have to but don’t cut corners on your brand’s delivery on its promise. You will lose some opportunities by advertising less, but you will lose customers for ever if the brand doesn’t deliver.
Fiona McAnena, marketing director, Pepsico
Empathise with your customers’ position, but with integrity and authenticity. As ever, Charles Dunstone was there before most of us, with us plea for “radical transparency” at Carphone Warehouse. The latest example is Norwich Union’s new price comparison site, claiming to list competitors’ quotes even when lower than their own. The advertising for this is compelling, but the results will rest on how comprehensively and genuinely the proposition is delivered.”
Alan Giles, chairman, Fat Face
“I’d recommend that marketers should strive for better insights into how customers perceive the ‘value’ they offer relative to that of competitors; make sure they implement initiatives to enhance ‘value’ not just reduce price and invest to get their message through to current and potential new customers.”
Mhairi McEwan, managing director, Brand Learning
Downturns are moments for rethinking, for focusing on what makes you special, for getting close to customers, for smart and bold moves, for shaking up the market, for asserting yourself competitively, for reaching out to new customers, for staying positive.
R – RETHINK your strategy and priorities as new opportunities emerge in the changing market, as competitors shake out and new spaces emerge
E – EFFECTIVENESS matters more than ever, proactively demonstrate that you know it matters to the CFO, maximise ROI on every action
T – TARGET the best markets, best customers, best customers – focus on best 20% to deliver 80% revenue, 10% to deliver 90% profit
H – HELP your customers survive and thrive too – be on their side, develop new propositions and solutions in response to new environment
I – INNOVATE every aspect of business, working smarter, trying radical ideas, to change the value equation, and be a winner in the upturn
N – NEUTRALISE the economic threats, identify and manage your risk areas, keep cashflow strong, stay close to customers
K – KEEP GOING, dont panic or lose confidence, look for the upsides, avoid the downsides, be responsive, and be bold too
Whilst the UK and USA markets suffer most, its certainly not the same everywhere – this week I’ve been workng in eastern Europe, and next week in Singapore – where the impact of US banks’s credit problems have had much less impact – markets are still growing – the East is thriving as the West struggles to survive – maybe its time to look more broadly at your potential markets!
Peter Fisk, the founder, Genius Works!
Saves equal vanity, profit equals sanity, cash equals reality. In recession cash is king. Do everything to defend and preserve it. Cut costs, agree terms of business to maximise it and conserve it.
Cash is a strategic weapon. Without it you are defenceless. With it you can buy underpriced assets, extend distribution, invest for growth in recession. The three key words in recession are cash, cash and cash.
Focus on customers, understand how attributes drives brand choice are changing . Function and price rise in importance compared with image. Use the chance to wrong foot competitor brands.
Don’t cut advertising and marketing behind good brands.
Focus on necessities not discretionary spending issues. Recessions are about basics not luxuries, survival not indulgence.
Make marketing accountable, show roi.
David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance