Marketing Through the Tough Times

By Patrick Sharpe,
VP of Audience Development, Lessiter Media

This has been some year. Never in my 40+ years of marketing and sales have I struggled as much as I seem to now, and I’ve marketed and sold through all the recessions of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, plus every market upturn and downturn in between.

But nothing quite like this.

The problem, as we all know, is there seems to be no clear path to follow for marketing success these days. No blueprint. No boundaries. It's unprecedented times for most of us and it’s stretching our nerves, patience and courage.

As we examined this more, we concluded therein was our problem. We were looking for a plan or strategy that simply didn’t exist, or at best, wasn’t easily recognizable or evident to us. We were stumped.

So, we circled the wagons, got our best thinkers in the room and plotted out a strategy to build a successful marketing strategy that we felt would be effective, restore our confidence and position us for the time when things start moving forward again.

Here’s what we did.

First, we reviewed our marketing fundamentals. The basics we first learned early in our careers. What worked – what didn’t. We paid particular attention to the things that didn’t work. Second, we dove into the more challenging years of past recessions, downturns, introduction of a new competitor, anything that was a unique or inadvertent challenge. Again, focusing on what worked and what didn’t.

As we studied it the picture became clear – crystal clear.

We recognized whenever we paralyzed our marketing efforts, especially during a downturn, we lost customers, we lost business, and we lost market share to our competition who were more aggressive than us. We never once were successful “saving” our way into profitability and increased market share.

Astonishingly, we didn’t learn our lesson. We made the very same mistake during the next downturn, and I’m humbled to say we made it over and over again. We always paid dearly for it. This pandemic almost caused us to make that same mistake again.

Why? Because cutting out or reducing your marketing investment feels like the easiest decision to make. Muscle memory. Downturn in revenue – cut out marketing. It’s often the reaction we’re most encouraged to make. Sometimes required to make.

Unfortunately, those decisions are often made by those who are not fully knowledgeable in marketing and its impact, and are clueless on the long-term consequences of stopping your marketing train. Yet, they are the same people that will question you a year later while sales continue to lag and the additional expense you need in order to make up for the lost ground.

But we are lucky. Our marketing team has a near perfect blend of experience, expertise, forbearance, confidence and courage. We kept them intact. We had the wisdom to tackle this challenge together. We looked at this challenge from many perspectives and many angles. We all weighed in equally and got on the same page and built the plan together.

First thing we did was re-engage Ryan Dohrn, a renowned international sales and marketing authority who we’ve worked with for many years. We asked Ryan to help re-energize the marketing team and our advertising partners to focus on marketing through the “tough times.”

He delivered.

He put together a terrific video presentation (about an hour long, but well worth your time investment) that we used as groundwork to our “pandemic recovery” marketing plan. It gave us a real foundation for our strategy discussions, and we thought you might benefit by watching it as well. Click below to watch...

We encourage you to watch it and share with others in your group or whoever you think would benefit from watching it. It will help you focus on the marketing decisions that matter. It will help you see clearer through the pandemic disruption going on right now, and it will help restore your confidence and courage to continue to push forward in your marketing efforts.

Not sure what next steps your company should take to get your marketing efforts back on track? Feel free to drop me a line, and our team would be happy to discuss the challenges you are encountering and opportunities to help position your brand front and center when your customers are ready to buy.