I had a haircut! It was very necessary, as I had not had one since early March.
In my state, North Carolina, we are in Phase 2 of a projected three-phase reopening, as imagined by our state’s government. Phase 2 included the reopening of, among other things, restaurant dining rooms at 25% capacity (outside you can have more) as well as the reopening of hair salons, barbers and nail salons.
After I had my hairs attended to, I watched a very interesting online webinar, presented by Peter Field, an authority in marketing and advertising research. In a presentation organized by The Global TV Group, Peter was asked to share his insights on “Advertising During a Recession.” His recommendations, summarized:
1. Do not panic.
2. Do not go short. That is, don’t cut your brand investment to zero, and do not switch 100% of your investment to promotional advertising. Neither work over the long term. Believe me, he has the data to support this claim, including share price, volume, brand health, etc. post previous recessions.
3. Defend your share of voice (SOV) unless short-term survival is at stake, kind of in line with point 2.
4. Take advantage of cheaper SOV to drive growth in recovery if you can. As the market contracts both in price and volume, maintaining your position will cost you less, and what you save you can set aside for when the market returns.
5. Don’t throw away a good brand campaign. If you have one, use it.
6. Emotions work during a recession. But keep a finger on the pulse on which emotions. In the early days of #stayathome, people wanted to see that you recognized their challenges. Now they want you to share optimism that things will turn around. Things changed in two months.
7. Behaviors are especially important in this recession: Be innovative. Ask yourself “How can we help?” Brands that showcase how they are helpful can count on strong, long-term support and recognition.
What does this have to do with my haircut?
As I write this, one in four in the American workforce have applied for unemployment. That is more people than live in all of Canada! And while it is true that some parts of our economy are slowly waking up from their COVID-induced coma, others are only now finding how COVID’s changed marketplace is impacting them.
I heard from an economist that the “hard cut, swift comeback” model for our economy is probably a dream, but not reality. Over the remainder of this year, we will continue to see certain groups of people coming back into the workforce, while others will find themselves as surplus.
Airlines are offering voluntary leaving options, and warn that if there aren’t enough takers, layoffs will follow. Boeing is seeking a workforce reduction. Hertz and a growing number of retailers have gone into bankruptcy protection or gone under. Many restaurants will not make it through the pandemic.
In other words, the lessons from Peter Field will remain relevant for some time to come. It is not easy to stay his recommended course, especially if that course drags on for months. But believe me when I say that his numbers do not lie. Following them may actually save your business, provided your business has the stamina to do so.