Recession-proof branding – Part 2

This is the second of 2 posts on “recession-proof branding”, based on interviews with 20 marketing directors from top companies across different sectors and markets. The first post focused on fixing fundamentals, whereas this one concentrates on getting more bang for your branding buck.

You can also catch us talking on this at the Marketing Society Conference in London on 25th November.

The challenge for marketing
Pressure on marketing budgets will only increase over the next couple of years. Boards will freeze or even cut marketing investment, despite all the studies showing that this is bad in the long run. But they’ll still expect the sales forecast to be delivered. The only way to do this is to get more bang for your marketing buck.

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1.Be brave, make waves

Now’s the time to work your brand idea hard to create “PR-able” marketing: brave ideas that generate free publicity and maximise your budget’s impact. For example, Doritos broke the mould for its Super Bowl advert, avoiding the big budgets and super celebrities other brand used. Instead, they launched a campaign to get fans to create their own ads, with voting online. The winner was aired, live, at the Super Bowl ‘as shot’.  This not only slashed their production budget, it also generated millions of dollars worth of free publicity.

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2. Everything must sell

Every bit of the brand (e.g. packaging, websites, secondary packaging) can be used to  actively encourage existing users to use more. For free. Breakfast cereal Weetabix uses the idea of "The Weetabix Week" to suggest different and interesting eating ideas, to encourage more frequent consumption. The idea is communicated on the back of pack, and the website has suggestions for a month of different breakfast ideas that you can print off.

3. Packvertising

How many packs a year do you sell? For many companies this runs into the millions. And that’s several million bits of free media space, or "packvertising”, that you can use for free. For example, packs can be used to cross-sell, as done by Pantene, using its shampoo and conditioner packs to cross-sell the brand’s new styling range. Simple, but effective as it is placing a message at exactly the moment when hair styling is done – after you wash your hair.

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This can even work on small packs. Splenda, the sweetner brand, uses the back of its single serve sachets to communicate directly at point of consumption. From the functional ‘Perfect for sprinkling on cereals and fruit’ to the more emotional ‘Let your creative sprinkles flow’, they’ve used their small but perfectly sited packs, sold through the catering channel, as a key brand messaging medium direct to consumers. 

4. Fuel your fan clubs

The smartest companies we talked to are using two under-utilised sales forces to help grow their brands. The first sales force is your loyal users. With a bit of effort you could increase their effectiveness in spreading positive word-of-mouth, and research has shown that this can increase the efficiency of your marketing budget by 40%.  For example, innocent smoothies’ quirky and entertaining weekly email has 100,000+ subscribers.

The second sales force is made of people working inside the company. What are you doing to engage the company's workforce with your brand, and encourage them to promote it to friends and family? For example, one of the marketing directors we interviewed had saved money and increased employee engagement by enrolling the help of company employees in a sampling drive.

The times today are for sure tough. But by fixing the fundamentals and working on getting the best bang for your buck, we believe you can survive and maybe even thrive. Please do let us know if you have other examples or ideas for winning in the downturn.