Investing in marketing to plan for recovery

How do you stand out when everyone is doubling down on digital?

It’s a strange time to be a brand.

It’s a strange time to be anybody, really. The most disruptive event in living memory is upon us. Few (if any) of us know quite how to behave as the COVID-19 crisis pushes its way further into our collective consciousness and lives on levels no-one could’ve anticipated.

Here in the marketing realm, the future is murky. Brands around the globe are tightening their belts and looking for ways to cut costs. During times like these, I like to remember the immortal words of Henry Ford, who once famously quipped, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

Manufacturing brands which opted not to cut back on marketing expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession, for example, outperformed those which cut back on their advertising budgets during the same period by an impressive margin.

Source: McGraw-Hill Research’s Laboratory of Advertising Performance. 1985.


This pattern has repeated itself through every subsequent recession in the decades since. Brands which cut back on advertising during a recession lose market share over time to those which don’t.

The lesson for brands as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis begins to strike at the world’s bottom lines is clear: now is NOT the time to make significant cuts to marketing budgets.

Far from it, in fact.

As Hilton’s Philip Wright put it so succinctly in a recent LinkedIn post “I have to embrace this time for what it is, a chance to reset, review and re-shape what the next 5-10 years might look like.”

These should be words to live by, not only for individuals reflecting on our own personal circumstances but also for brands reflecting upon their marketing strategies in the months to come.

Historically, forward-thinking brands which market aggressively through tough times have excelled, as evidenced by eBay’s explosive growth following the 2001 recession, and Groupon’s following that of 2008. Positioning your brand to make the most of our current circumstances isn’t just prudent, it’s an imperative.

Standing out from the crowd in a post COVID-19 world (the subject of a recent webinar I hosted) will mean the difference between long-term brand success and long-term brand failure. Brands will have to think differently, adapt, and find innovative solutions to problems unforeseen and which they can’t ignore. Solutions, such as AI-Powered Copywriting, will be the difference between the brands who survive and the brands who thrive during this perplexing period.

The digital transformation which we have all watched take shape over the past couple of decades is about to kick into high gear. Now is the time for brands to embrace it and double down on the tech that will become table stakes in the next iteration of the digital economy. These technological solutions, which enable brands to connect with and engage digital audiences more effectively – including but not limited to Phrasee – are the path to a more lucrative digital marketing future.

High tech partners can offer the support brands need to power through uncertainty and come out on top.

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