We have no crystal ball. Any good economist will tell you they can’t predict the future either. They are really good at explaining what has happened, which is why we turn to them for the best forecast for what may come next.
What we do know is the last recession ended in 2009, and the timing between the past three recessions have been between seven and 10 years.
It’s now 2019.
Before you batten down the hatches, this is not a time to cut advertising. Now, hear us out. We realize we’re in the marketing biz, but there’s some cold, hard truth here. During an economic downturn, people hunger for information. They are confused, angry and frustrated. Your brand’s tone and positioning – including the lack thereof – will influence consumer behavior.
You’ve worked hard to establish your mission, values and fundamental goals of service. Do you want a reputation of abandoning your principles when the going gets tough? Of course not. It pays to maintain open communication. Uncertain consumers are looking for reassurance.
Don’t look for scapegoats; show that even when things are rough you will stick by your members. Likewise, be a positive influence on your team. It’s easy to get mired down in office politics and petty disputes, particularly during a recession. People take notice of those who are able to reshape ideas.
You know the importance of differentiating your brand from that of the competition, right? Well, it only becomes fiercer during an economic downturn. Now is the time to hone your value message. Recognize and seize opportunities to be bold and offer cost-saving programs. Avoid gimmicks. Consistency, security and function become key.
Credit unions and community banks that maintain or increase their advertising during a recession also tend to come out better on the other end. With less demand, media buys become more affordable. When organizations cut back, they find themselves, quite simply, behind – along with negotiating higher contracts to buy back in.
A TNS Media Intelligence study supported this claim. It found large household and personal-care marketers cut media spending during the 2009 recession and lost market share to private labels – share they didn’t regain. The next recession may be just the opportunity for smaller financial institutions to chip away at the big banks.