The last few weeks have taught us something interesting. The knee-jerk reaction of many companies is to save revenue by cutting marketing spend. Not only did we experience this first-hand, but we also bore witness to this response bringing print media to its knees. In the past week South Africa has seen the withdrawal from magazine publishing from two of its biggest media houses, Caxton and Associated Media Press. Clearly, this is detrimental to the supply chain. But how does it affect the brand cutting advertising? After all, I had done the same, putting a pause on my online marketing expenditures. So, I decided to do more research on why you should keep marketing in uncertain times.

Not your usual recession

During a “usual recession”, if your company was in a position to do so, you would continue marketing the products and services you usually sell, perhaps adding a new product or running a promotion to align with the times. But let’s face it, this is not your “usual recession”. COVID-19 has forced the world to a complete stand still, and it is not that businesses are struggling to operate, it is that in many cases they are not allowed to do so by order of the law of the land. And if they are, it is not at full capacity. But this too shall pass. Even if the world does look a little different after. After all, would that be such a terrible thing? What we need to be thinking about now, is how we envision that new world. And how will our business align with our vision.

Evaluate your offerings

As difficult as it may be to see the silver lining, this is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. You might feel the need to do something… anything… to turn the situation around. But rather than making hasty decision, take the time to review your business plan. Perhaps you have veered off your path and need to readjust. Or perhaps knowing what uncertainty the future holds requires you to re-align your goals to something more realistic. That way you won’t feel defeated when your 5- or 10-year mark rolls around.

On the other hand, you may have discovered that your product or service is not deemed essential, and you may want to reconsider what you do (and how you do it) to make your line of work more relevant. This does not mean you need to reinvent the wheel. Make what you know work for you by putting years’ worth of experience and marketing to work. Identify problems that are within your wheelhouse to solve.

If spending time at home rekindled old interests and passions, now might even be a good time to find your niche.

Reassess your marketing in uncertain times

Whether you are continuing to market your usual products or offering new ones, there are three things you will need to consider.

Adjust your tone. When marketing in uncertain times, it is important to be sensitive to the current situation and market. Consumers are concerned for their safety and their pockets. You can set their minds at ease by conveying that you understand their position and have their best interest at heart. For example, you could release a campaign that explains the health and safety measures you have put in place at your production facilities (showing that you not only care about your consumers, but also your staff) or in your stores. People will feel more confident in re-joining your service knowing what steps you have in place and what is expected from them.

Be relevant. Reallocate your budget to focus on products and services that are available to customers at this moment, rather than pushing content that may not be relevant at this time. Pushing an exotic holiday campaign to international travellers would be a terrible waste of your resources, probably for the next few years, but encouraging locals to explore their own backyard could be a worthwhile alternative when the time is right. Start planning now for what “the new normal” will look like.  

Retain existing customers. Should your product or service be considered a luxury item, aim your marketing at solidifying your relationship with existing (read returning) clients by showing how the product they have at home can be used for their pleasure during this time. According to scientific studies, about 70 percent of businesses report that it is cheaper to retain customers than it is to find new ones!

Marketing is an investment, not an expense

“A man who stops advertising to save money, is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Henry Ford

Once you have a clear vision on how you wish to proceed, you will need to convey your message to the public. For obvious reasons, digital marketing is the most appropriate and useful communication tool under the current circumstances. It enables you to reach your existing audience through newsletters and introduce yourself to potential new patrons through social media and search marketing.

It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during a recession, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at lower cost than during good economic times.

Now is the time to exhibit strength and make sure your clients know that you are still in business and that you have their back when it comes to service delivery and product support. When consumers return to spending, they will invest in brands that project an image of stability in uncertain times.

Our vision moving forward

We started out 2019 with a new vision for Natalie Field Photography, to service only a select few clients, while serving their every need. This hasn’t changed. Now, more than ever, we wish to keep our circle small. I believe that knowing a client and their business well allows us to deliver a personalised service and offer more relevant solutions. We are a small team, and there are only so many hours in a day. We want to spend those hours conceptualising new ideas and creating striking content. Preferably for a product and people we believe in.

For the time being we will focus on photography that does not require serious levels of human interactions, capturing products, architecture and interiors, food, art reproduction and some forms of stock photography. However, our design team is standing ready to assist with quirky design elements, newsletter layouts, social media posts, motion graphics, explainer videos and more!
Get inspired by our Commercial Photography, Design and Motion galleries!

collage of commercial photography and graphic design services we will be marketing in uncertain times by Natalie Field Photography in Johannesburg

Let’s see this through with a CAN DO attitude! Contact Us.