To state the obvious – we are in a recession – it isn’t much fun – many are spending cautiously if at all – jobs are barely hanging in there, going, or gone. I know it, you know it – we all know it. That said, why is there such a predominant tone to advertising these day? First they tell you just how bad it is. Then they tell you they feel your pain. Only to hit you with a sales pitch that is supposed to make the blues go away or give you permission to buy. As far as I can tell, all this does is 1) reinforce in someone’s head the fact that they are hurting, and 2) try to convince them that it’s o.k. to spend money on something they just might not need or want. Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s the job of advertisers. I know the drill.
As a consumer and a business owner I know both sides of the scenario. Right now things are tough. I’d love to have the luxury to spend the way I did when things were hopping and I’d also love to have the flow of projects coming my way that I experienced in the past. But I’m also a realist – it isn’t going to happen, at least not right now.
So what I’m proposing is a bit of a moratorium on the hard sell. I realize you have to keep selling your product or service. Duh… that’s part of business. What I’d like to see is a more heartfelt approach to the consumer. Stop nagging everyone to buy and maybe use this as an opportunity to build your brand and a relationship with your market.
Now is the time to set your brand apart from everyone else. Strive to imprint your product or service in your market’s conscience. How are you better, newer, friendlier, more economic, flexible, etc.? Maybe tell us what your company is doing to help those in need right now. Are you donating to an organization? Are you helping to train people who are currently unemployed? Have you made some adjustment to the way you sell your product or service to make it more accessible to your market right now? If your company is truly involved with your community, let us know.
There’s nothing like good public relations. It can elevate your brand in the minds of your market for many years to come. Instead of pounding home the message that we’re all struggling right now – instead of finding a new way to make people buy right now – you’d be amazed at the impact you can have if you step back from the “selling” message and focus on empowering your customer to see that there is indeed a positive future ahead. I realize your bottomline is your focus right now. You may think this “feel good” approach is of no value to your company. I’m not suggesting you take your focus off being in business. I only wish to emphasize the opportunity you may be wasting. Your market wants to know that you give a dam about them as people. If they’ve found your product or service to their liking, they’d love to support your company with sales. The reality of it all is that maybe they can’t right now. So let them know you understand. You get it – they are tapped out at the moment. You get it – we’ll be there for you when you need us. And by the way, we’re doing this, this, or that to try to help.
I guess what I’m really saying is don’t take your target market for granted. People are used to our tactics. They can tell if you genuinely give a dam. They know if all you’re interested in is making a buck. Now is not the time to tee off on your customer base. How about showing some empathy and a “find a way to win” mentality? Make your brand the first one they think of when times are better. Keep offering the best of what you have to give. Hope your market can continue to support you through sales. But if they just can’t right now, let them know that’s o.k. You get it. Let them know you’re trying to make it work for both of you. Bottomline – let them know you’re human too.