5 ways digital marketers can prepare for a possible economic downturn

This column reflects the thoughts and aspirations of young talent in the advertising industry. Read these workday musings from a media planner on tackling an impending recession

Simran ChughUpdated: Tuesday, November 22, 2022, 10:37 AM IST
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Simran Chugh |

In the last few days, the words ‘recession’ and ‘lay-off’ have kept most of us glued to the news websites and pushed us to read economic theories to predict if there is going to be a possible recession or not. While the debate continues, and we do see some early signs already, it helps marketers to understand the possible outcomes, and first reactions we can expect from clients. Moreover, it gives us time to prepare ourselves to prepare our clients. There is no better source to do this than our learnings and understandings from the pandemic and the recession of 2008.

Do not cut back on Brand Marketing, think long-term, not short: As seen during the pandemic and economic recessions earlier, the focus entirely boils down to ROI, i.e., your performance marketing spends and strategy. Hence, most brands cut costs by bringing down brand marketing spends. While this strategy helps in cutting costs in the short run, all recent recessions, 2008, 1981-82 show that brands who do so, have to spend a lot higher later to cover up for the lost momentum. It helps to build a stringent media plan that results in the least spillage and focuses on maximum efficiency to avoid unnecessary spends. However, doing away with branding spends is not advisable.

Woo your existing customers, focus on Retention Marketing: New brand trials are usually at an all-time low during economic downturns and consumers tend to stick to familiar brands. It will be extremely beneficial to focus on retention strategies, hear what your consumers want and prioritize your marketing efforts towards solving their needs.

Adopt technology to get the highest bang for your buck: With an increased focus on ROI and being precise with marketing spends, it’s extremely important to adopt technological resources that will help you spend effectively. Here at Dentsu, we rely heavily on our in-house Dentsu marketing cloud, which has a suite of tools to help you strategize, plan and optimize better. While the human touch is essential in advertising, there is still a lot that AI can do better than us in helping us get the most bang for our marketing bucks.

Use data to prioritize media spends: Besides adopting AI and tech to help you optimize your media spends, data has got to be your next best friend. Ensure your brand has the right tracking methodologies and data measurement systems in place. Further combine micro and macro data points, to arrive at insights that will help you sharp-shoot your media budgets in the right direction.

The right use of creativity is key: Often, during economic slowdowns, we hear brands wanting to continue media spends using older creatives, to cut down on the spends required to create new assets. While this sometimes might work, it's more important than ever for your creatives to be empathetic or contextual and relevant in the scenario to help make your media efforts more effective.

(Simran Chugh is Associate Director - Media, Dentsu Creative India)

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