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How to Get an Edge on your Competitors by Advertising During a Recession

Aug 23, 2008
Financial insecurity is a huge worry for everyone - from the common person to international companies - and when something such as a recession is looming, panic often sets in.

Recession is a time when many companies are typically looking to save money by cutting back on spending. For businesses, one of the most tempting places to start is by slashing the marketing budget but history has shown that advertising during a recession can have great benefits for a company.

Companies who cut their advertising budgets in response to market conditions or while waiting for sales to pick up before reinvesting in advertising campaigns may think they are making a prudent and astute business decision, when in reality, the opposite is true.. If your competitor's brand isn't being seen as much in the public domain as it previously was, then it could mean your business has a great opportunity to muscle in on the marketplace and begin to dominate. There's no saying how long a recession will last and the longer the public goes without seeing a company being advertised, the more likely they are to forget about it.

One of the most famous examples comes from America during the Great Recession of the 1930s. At the time, Post Cereals were the leading producers of breakfast cereal; but with the need to cut expenses, they decided to stop their advertising campaign and as they were the market leaders - with a hugely dominant share - they felt such a move wouldn't make too much of a difference to their market position. Kellogg's, however, who were at the time a small company, took an alternative view to this and greatly increased their spending - taking up advertising spots in newspapers and on radio stations across the States. Kelloggs' iconic character, 'Tony the Tiger', was born and his trademark exclamation of "They're great!" proved popular at the time and remains so to this day. The positive image of the campaign and the company helped to boost sales and as the depression came to an end, Kellogg's had asserted themselves as the country's favourite. As consumer spending picked up once the recession had passed they remained loyal to the brand.

Whilst eliminating business advertising is not advisable, changing strategy may be useful. With the fear that consumers will be spending less, making your product or service seem superior rather than quirky or trendy may be beneficial. Furthermore online advertising gives new opportunities to stand out even for small and medium companies.

If you're going to attempt to elicit emotions from the audience, Tony the Tiger is proof that using positive and reassuring messages can help stem the tide through an economic recession.
About the Author
Bian Salins is the Managing Editor of BT Tradespace - an online community where businesses can advertise and sell products & services and everyone has the opportunity to shop, chat and share their opinion.
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