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The Best Way to Market in a Recession

Published 24 Aug 2020 by Ellice Eadie, CANDDi
Read this in about 4 minutes

In uncertain times, striking a balance between cautious and keeping your brand alive can seem a little crass. How can we carry on with business as usual when everything around us is anything but?

With The Guardian reporting the country is in recession for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, it seems that 2020 is fast becoming the year of bad News. For any Year of the Rat babies like me, let’s try again in 2032 shall we?

But with all that bad news, is now really the time to lose our sense of humour?

Coronavirus Recession

Credit (and comic) crunch

Over the last five months, funny bits of content are becoming harder to find. And with the economy’s latest figures, it doesn’t look like that’s about to change. Now, there’s nothing funny about a global pandemic, but is there any harm in loosening the marketing reigns every once in a while?

Humour is in fact one of the most powerful creative outlets we have. It allows us to break down barriers and create strong emotional connections, isn’t that just what we need? No matter what’s happening around us, our human brain is programmed to respond positively to humour, after all we can’t bore our way into people’s hearts and minds.

How often do we need to be reminded that life is tough right now?

Making it work

We all know that in times of tight purse strings, our marketing spend is the first to get slashed. All the more reason to get creative. But how do we make it work? With less people and less resources at most companies at the minute, the answer to weathering the economic storm doesn’t lie in who can shout the loudest, but rather those who gets clever with their brand investment. That’s where a bit of humour comes in. A little laugh goes a long way after all.

Authenticity first

Obviously, if you’re in more of a corporate industry, this probably isn’t the right strategy for you. People will appreciate your empathy and support more than a funny blog post here and there. This isn’t something that should be forced, especially not now. It’s like those awful jokes your boss insists on telling. Tumbleweed, anyone?

But, if you’re known for being a little quirky, keep it up. Satirical more your thing? Go for it. This has been what’s kept your brand going in the first place, so don’t let it slip now. If you want to stand out, you need something that gets people in their gut.

For the sciencey types amongst us, it’s true I promise! It’s proven that emotions are the quickest way to deepen memory structures. This means we can guide our customers’ purchasing decisions through triggering distinctive memory associations. Sneaky, but in a helpful and positive kind of way.

Missed opportunities

It’s a well known fact that in times of crisis laughter is one the best medicines. Yet throughout this pandemic it seems originality and humour has been adopted by very few of us. Are we missing a trick here?

At the end of the day, is marketing not a bit of escapism? Is the point of our job as content creators not to make people laugh, smile or just feel something in general? So why aren’t we offering the simple reminder of more normal times?

There’s only 8% of our consumers that think brands should stop their advertising for the time being. This suggests that the other 92% are expecting business as usual! To ignore the situation we find ourselves in completely would be insensitive to say the least, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to lighten the load a little bit.

We need to find a way to bring back our bold creativity and not fall victim to becoming a wallflower. Yes, humour might feel counterintuitive. But don’t all great ideas at first? If you’re trying to make people smile, you can’t go far wrong.

Sense and sensibility

Like Jane Austen’s Marianne, many brands are too quick to respond emotionally without putting much sense behind it. People sure are tired of the whole ‘we’re in this together regime’. If you want to show you care without being heavy on the pity party, see our tips for sales in 2020 here.

At the end of the day, it’s been done before. Trying to evoke a feeling of togetherness is borderline painful. Half of the country is still in this on their own, the others trying their best to salvage normal life. I think the idea of some bigshot CEO from a massive company like Emirates and Birds Eye saying ‘we’re here with you’ isn’t hitting home anymore.

Where’s their brand uniqueness?

Take a chance

Nothing good comes from thinking too hard and feeling too little. Marketing is, always been and always will be emotive. Now’s the time to think about rewriting old rules. You need to think about how your customers’ behaviors have changed, as well how they will continue to evolve the longer coronavirus sticks around. Be bold and don’t be shy about bringing your unique brand to life by making people smile and laugh.

Whether it’s carrots called Kevin or a Gorilla that drums, the most effective creative has always been the stuff that doesn’t entirely make sense. Why change it now?

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