What kind of strategic planner are you? You can easily determine this by asking yourself a simple question:
Do you normally see the glass as half-empty or half-full?
When the market is down optimism can be one of the brand strategist’s biggest assets. Here are seven reasons why:
1. Today you can make terrific marketing and media buys. Look at it from the marketing and media organization’s perspective. If you offer to continue your strategic marketing programs at “reasonable” reduced rates they retain a valued customer during a challenging time and maintain their overall market share. Trying to negotiate ridiculously low rates usually does not work, particularly with leading companies who naturally resist devaluing their brand just because of a short-term down market condition.
HINT: A successful stockbroker once told me, “Bears make money. Bulls make money. Pigs get slaughtered.”
2. You can present new solutions to old problems. Your brand can be that solution! There’s an old saying that says, “The answer is no until you ask.” Obviously, the only way to get a ‘yes’ is to ask. So ask with a new brand solution in hand!
3. You can time your brand marketing more effectively. Today’s marketplace is filled with more choices, positions, spots, cross-promotions, and related i-media outlets that can strategically push your brand. When the market is flush a premium position costs much more than a general position. But that’s not as true when the market is down. You can make your timing work to your advantage.
4. You can form new strategic alliances. A down economy often opens up opportunities for smaller brands to cross-promote their brand with larger ones. For instance, a local printer teams up with a national printer who has extensive packaging equipment and capabilities and sells those specialty services to its local customers. It’s a win, win, win! The national printer adds new sales. The smaller printer earns new income from a printing service it normally does not offer. The customer receives local service and national capabilities.
5. You can invest heavily in your strongest brand. A common mistake a company makes is investing in its declining brands rather than investing in its stars. In the majority of cases a simple evaluation usually shows that 20% of a company’s brands bring in 80% of the revenue. These are the brands to pour investment into. In the past 100 years all down markets eventually returned to higher levels than their lowest point. The brands that emerged the winners were usually those that were best known or best positioned to serve their customers’ needs.
6. It may be a good time to consider purchasing a company or merging with one. One of the unfortunate consequences of a down market is some businesses will go out of business. However, their brands’ recognition will live on and make ideal targets for acquisition or merger.
7. Consider a shift to aggressive, competitive positioning. There is a profound rise in joint print, newsprint and online media promotions and these joint promotions offer leading and emerging brands with ideal markets to explore new brand strategies. Perhaps your company has always held a number two or three position in a market but has been waiting for ideal market conditions to push hard and try and overtake the market leader? Now may be that ideal time. First, you need to determine if the media market dynamics and the numbers will work in your favor.
As with all advice, be the realist. Don’t take any business for granted. It’s not a business as usual market so you have to be reflective and willing to make strategy shifts to remain viable. Struggling markets open up new ways of doing business that might not be available in better times. Sometimes they pressure companies to try new promotions and force them to make changes. This can work to a brand manager’s advantage by becoming the bridge between where a company is now and where it needs to go to remain profitable.