During times of economic unease, there can be a knee-jerk reaction to slash budgets—especially in the marketing department.
However, there’s also a long track record of risk associated with this approach. Deprioritizing marketing erodes brand share and can make it that much harder to make up lost ground when markets bounce back.
Marketers know this already. But, occasionally, others in the company need more convincing. A powerful rationale is one that anticipates concerns, addresses reality and sets everyone up for success on the other side. By following these three strategies—and making the right case to those in charge of financial decisions—you can protect your budgets and improve their impact.
Strategy #1: Double down on unique audience reach
It’s critical to grow your base and acquire new customers during tough economic times, especially as your current customers may change their spending habits.
One of the best proxies for customer acquisition is unique audience reach. This is a deduplicated metric that counts individuals instead of frequency, regardless of which device they’re on. Without deduplicated metrics, your ads may rack up thousands of impressions but only reach a small audience.
When you want to broaden your audience, it’s critical to know if you’re actually expanding your reach or just targeting the same folks repeatedly.
Strategy #2: Define your audience—and then dig deeper
Audience targeting is, arguably, the most important tactic for global marketers during a downturn. If you consider your audience to be fairly broad, you may need to focus on a smaller niche. For example, if your audience consists of millennials who live in big cities and want a new car, consider targeting single millennials between 28 and 35 years old who live in the 20 largest metro areas, bought a sedan in the last five years, and are now looking for an SUV. The pool of potential consumers may shrink, but your ad should resonate with more of them.
Consumers are likely to change their behavior during a recession, so your conception of the ideal customer may have to transform as well. However, traditional demographic data may not be enough to identify your core audience. One solution is to augment those data sets with psychographic, behavioral, purchase-based, and media consumption information.
Strategy #3: Always be ready to adjust on the fly
According to Nielsen data from 2019 and 2020, brands waste nearly 40% of their digital advertising on the wrong audiences, and 29% of connected TV ad spend reaches off-target audiences. The potential for wasted spend is higher during a recession when your target audience might be in a constant state of flux.
There are two great ways to spot and capitalize on advertising opportunities:
—Ameneh Atai, General Manager, Digital Audience Measurement, Nielsen
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