For the past 10 years, The Communicator has been the voice of V&A. Columns from team members, industry experts and those who understand the importance and impact of great strategic communications have contributed to this online editorial.

As we always say, the advice is always free, it is what you do with it that counts!


In 2010, we were in the midst of the Great Recession and there were so many things similar to today’s economic climate. Large-scale layoffs, furloughs, the unemployment rate was sitting at 10 percent and marketing budgets were slashed!


Accountants love cutting “non-essential” or “big ticket” expenditures. For some reason, that includes marketing, communications and advertising. To me, this logic is like watching a fire go out and refusing to put more wood on the stack because it costs too much to keep it going.


Even the greatest of companies, those that you didn’t think would need bailouts and would survive a turn in the economy, took the same approach of a slash-and-burn account to marketing.


Of course, during the Great Recession, there were some indicators which hinted at a slowdown. With the recent worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, none of us could have ever imagined 20 to 25 percent unemployment and more than 115,000 deaths in the U.S.


During the Great Depression, things were as bleak as they are right now. In fact, many are saying it will be worse than the Great Depression. Things were bleak then too. Unemployment was the same and several of the same industries were hit hard. According to a New Yorker story that ran during the Great Recession, Kellogg won during the Great Depression while almost everyone failed. An excerpt from the story read:


In the late 1920s, two companies, Kellogg and Post, dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market— ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the ‘20s. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing. It reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the ‘30s.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost 30% and it had become what it remains today, the industry’s dominant player.


This too will end and when it does, you want to be on top! There are three ways you can focus on your marketing strategy:

• Concentrate on marketing share

• Turn down, don’t turn off

• Create demand through pricing and payment terms


Concentrate on marketing share

As your competitors go out of business or stop marketing altogether, you have an opportunity to realize gains in market share. Just like you, they may have suffered a loss in customers or a massive decline in revenue and that may have caused lower customer satisfaction.


This may also make the customers who are left a prime focus on which to offer new opportunities. Market as aggressively as possible, focus on your great service and product. Make sure you aren’t deaf to those in need or are hurting during this time. Raise your brand awareness and offer to those that can afford your product or service.


Most importantly, ensure that existing customers have no reason to go elsewhere and your new customers have no reason to go back to your competitors when this is all said and done.


Turn down, don’t turn off

No doubt about it, today’s market is ripe for a savvy buyer. Make sure you are out there to be reached. It may not be the same level of marketing you were doing 90 days ago, but it needs to be something. Use smart strategies to increase your frequency, target your past consumer audience segments and learn from those current clients why they are still with you.


Create demand through pricing and payment terms

Think about offering additional payment plans, deferring payments with added fees and other creative methods to engage customers and have them pay later. Don’t forget, cash is king. If a customer is willing to bring upfront money, then by all means, take that job, rush it to the front and take the back-end money immediately.


Create Your Plan Now

We can all agree, these are very difficult times. It is difficult to see the end of the tunnel. However, when that brilliant beam appears, even if it is still many miles away, you will need to be prepared!


No kidding, use this time to start planning now. Determine which of these strategies you are going to use, or maybe it is a combination of all three. Either way, make sure when this is all over, you are a winner like Kellogg rather than a 150 runner-up like Post.