Not to be negative, but if you’re paying attention, it’s quite obvious that we’re in a recession and might well be headed for worse than that in 2023.

So what now?

What moves should you be looking to make with your marketing in the coming year?

Fortunately, there’s hard data on this from previous downturns, all pointing to a very simple playbook.

This is that playbook modified and simplified for local businesses (vice Fortune 500 companies).

Lesson 1: Continue to Invest in Long-Term Branding

If you continue to invest in long-term brand building through an economic downturn, you will overtake your competition and bounce back faster and stronger on the other side of this downturn.

Most of your competitors won’t do that. They’ll pull back advertising spending. 

And what they do spend on marketing will be focused on short-term sales activation. 

“Get me more customers now, not next year.”

Counterintuitively, this is precisely what creates your opportunity. 

When everyone else stops talking, and you don’t, your voice rings out clearly. 

In marketing terms, that’s called Excess Share of Voice. 

Share of Voice means how much of the (mass media) advertising done in the marketplace is yours

Excess Share of Voice (ESOV) means that your share of voice is larger than your share of market. 

Your bark is bigger than your bite of the market. 

What data scientists have confirmed is that Excess Share of Voice leads to increased Share of Market with boring predictability.

If you advertise like a big dog, you’ll grow to be a big dog.  

Presuming, of course, that your ESOV advertising is aimed a long-term brand building. 

We’re talking sustained growth over time, not short-term sales. 

Lesson 2: Hire a First-Rate Media Buyer

Normally, the only way to get ESOV is to spend more than a company of your size would normally spend. 

Or to have a very good media buyer on your team.

A great media buyer can make your budget bark bigger than its size. 

But if you’re buying direct from the Radio, TV, or Outdoors provider, you’re not getting this advantage.

And there’s reason to believe the media buyer from your local ad agency might be happy just taking the 15% agency discount and being buddy-buddy with the media sales reps, rather than doing the hard negotiating that would be best for your business. 

And while it’s always beneficial to work with a first-rate media negotiator, you’ll get a double benefit during an economic downturn:

  1. Everyone else is advertising less, so your voice stands out more
  2. A good negotiator can make your dollar go further since there’s less money competing for that air time.

So you get a better media buy than you otherwise would, which increases share of voice, AND your ads are competing on a less noisy stage, which further boosts your signal. 

So if you’ve previously been buying directly from media reps, or you’ve never taken a hard look at the buys presented from your local agency, now might be a time to rethink that.

Lesson 3: Stay True to Your Brand & Run Smashing Good Ads

If you’ve been running an effective branding campaign in 2022, don’t feel like you have to alter your branding or your campaign for 2023. 

Stay the course when it comes to your brand DNA.

Don’t abandon your messaging for maudlin BS that explicitly mentions “in these times” or how “we’re here for you…”

Do level up your storytelling, entertainment, and emotional engagement

High-impact ads will ensure you gain excess share of mind over and above your share of voice.

In other words, stay on message. Don’t change your branding (assuming you have good branding to begin with).

If you’re going to change anything, level up your creativity.