Business, a game of two halves…

My old creative director used to liken most things to football, either players or teams or the game itself. Maybe this is where this post comes from. With this way of thinking you can quite easily look at the current business world and the economy in general as a football team. When times are hard, in business we start to let go of some of our biggest players; who needs two attackers when we can save a chunk of cash with only one? We start to focus on our defence, put things in place so we won’t let any goals in. Look to the clubs management to sort all the problems. And this mentality isn’t just with one team, this is the entire league.

The problem is, no one ever won a match focusing on defence.

studies show that in previous recessions the businesses that continued to invest in their brand and their marketing saw growth in their businesses

The first thing to be cut by businesses when times are hard is their marketing budget. It’s seen as a luxury, something that is fun to do, but is more of an expense than anything else. Especially if nothing is measured (see our post on ROI). Restructuring takes place, usually a pure numbers exercise. To businesses these solutions seem a sure-fire ways to ‘ride the storm’. And these things are most definitely ways to get through the tough times.

However, numerous studies show that in previous recessions the businesses that continued to invest in their brand and their marketing saw growth in their businesses, while those that pull their budgets saw a decrease in sales. If you stop and think about it, it does make sense.

Going back to football, if everyone is focused on the defence, business would stagnate. This is one of the first mistakes organisations make during times of economic crisis. It stands to reason that the teams fielding a balance between attack and defence would usually do better.

How can you stand out from the crowd during a recession?

The first thing to do is to alter your mindset; look at design and marketing and putting money behind your brand as in investment rather than an expense. This budget is about building recognition, talking above the crowd, standing out and making sure your customer base are fully aware of you.

Next, develop a plan. Start with looking at your business today, honesty is imperative here; what are your strengths and weaknesses, do you connect with your audience, do you live up to your promise? Look at your competition; what are they doing, how are they the same as you, how do you differ from them? Then think about what you want achieve. Is your focus to encourage brand loyalty to make you front of mind when your product or service is needed or is it purely growth?

Do you want to highlight a little known side of your business, something that puts you above your competitors, or really is this about putting your products or services in your customers line of sight as much as possible?

Put it down on paper, give your self a time frame, a budget and be clear about your targets.

What ever your marketing or branding is there to address you need to be sure that the investment has provided an acceptable return

You also need to detail what you would see as success for this work. Is it an uplift in sales, more visits online, more calls. Be specific and give this a value. What ever your marketing or branding is there to address you need to be sure that the investment has provided an acceptable return. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, but at the same time what ever you undertake needs to fully deliver against your identified goals.

If you have a strong identity that connects with you audience, focus on what has worked for you so far. If you’re visually in a relatively weak position, focus on systematically developing what strengths you have while addressing your weaknesses.

Finally be focused, this isn’t about being rigid and sticking to the plan, this is about being focussed on what you want to achieve. This is very much goal orientated.

Back to football, a good manager will alter his team to ensure that they win. They adapt, just because you did ‘x’ yesterday, it doesn’t mean it will work today. A good manager would never go for a draw, but sometimes would settle for one. But the aim will always be about staying on top,

The last bit

Sadly, business is not easy at the best of times. We understand that and can cater for the fact that times are hard. What we do is help deliver tools and applications that can help small and medium sized companies succeed. We are not some sort of saviour though, there are never guarantees and for every resounding success, there will no doubt be something that didn’t go so well. However, we are honest, we are engaged and we will help as much as we can.

Puur can help with advice on your plan, but also helping to deliver against it. We specialise in identity development borne from customer awareness. We ensure that your audience associates your product or service as a solution to their needs. Give us a call today to chat over your needs and how we can help.

Photos from the brilliant Pixabay | This post was first posted in February 2013

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