March 15, 2020


March 15, 2020


Written by Clifton Skelliter

I’ve recently had a lot of clients asking about how to scale their marketing efforts during this understandably anxious time in the world.

*for the sake of clarity, I am using the term marketing as an umbrella for branding, public relations, advertising, and all other related communication strategies.

We just got hit with a gas war and a coronavirus (COVID-19) and so far, the market is taking a brutal hit. The fear is high, and my goal is to ensure you do not choose the wrong strategy. Let’s take a moment and make the case for marketing during challenging times.

Let’s start with one of the greatest quotes ever; “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time” Henry Ford

I truly do believe these are the moments when the savvy, optimistic, and ambitious entrepreneurs prevail. I’m also not suggesting you spend wildly either, no, I am suggesting you invest with a very calculated strategy. This is the time when all (not just marketing) experts should matter the most to you. A lot of businesses will have a fear response and when we are too fearful, we make poor decisions. It is totally normal to feel anxiety, but this is your time to truly show yourself as the strong, astute, confident leader you were built to be.

Here are SIX reasons why you need to continue marketing:

1.   Other brands will cut back on their ad budgets and this will give you the opportunity to overshadow them and move into their brand position if they are above you.

2.   There will be incentives to continue using certain ad platforms. I suspect the price on ads will drop.

3.   Surviving does not mean throwing away your weapons. Marketing is a company's biggest weapon in the battle for the consumers mind. If you think things are bad now, wait ‘til people forget about you. If you are going to lose ground, avoid losing too much of it.

4.   People are looking for leadership. Stand strong, be loud, and build consumer confidence with your steady focus.

5.   Gain new customers and unite current customers. Be their hero.

6. It is your responsibility to make the case for commerce. You can’t stop spending and continue to ask people to spend money with you. The public will see that, and they will position you in their mind accordingly.

Interesting Data

Studies by McGraw Hill showed during the recessions in 1985, 1990-91 and 2001 showed sales for companies that remained aggressive during the recession enjoyed sales that were 2.5 times the average of all other businesses.

According to American Business Press and Meldrum & Fewsmith, “Sales and profits can be maintained and increased in recession years and in the years immediately following by those who are willing to maintain an aggressive marketing posture, while others adopt the philosophy of cutting back on promotional efforts when sales appear to be harder to get.”


  1. Amazon introduced its Kindle during the 2009 recession. Their sales grew by 29%.1. 
  2. During the 1920’s depression Kellogg’s doubled their advertising by investing in radio, also (and?) introducing Rice Krispies with their “Snap,” “Crackle”, and “Pop”. Profits increased by 30% and their brand positioning has remained strong for decades.
  3. In 1973-1975 a recession was triggered by the energy crisis. The U.S government issued its first mile-per-gallon vehicle in which Toyota was second to Honda Civic in fuel efficiency. Toyota was doing well before the recession, so they contemplated cutting back on ads. They stuck to their long-term strategy and surpassed Volkswagen in 1976 as the top imported car maker.
  4. In 1990-1991 McDonald’s decided to drop their advertising and promotion budget. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut did the opposite. Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell by 40% and McDonald’s declined by 28%.
  5. FedEx Corp began their business in 1973 during the gas-led recession even though they were reliant on the gas for their trucks and plans to transport their business.
  6. Microsoft Corporation founded in 1975 during a recession.
  7.  IBM did the unusual by raising prices during the mid 1970's recession.

I will stop at 7, but I could make this list so long with examples. The evidence is there.

One of my other favorite quotes is “In good times, people want to advertise; in bad times, they have to ” Bruce Barton

I understand that a lot of people are inclined to believe what they believe. If you are pessimistic you will find a way to poke holes in this theory. This is your bias. If you are optimistic and/or open-minded this will give you the hope, tools, and knowledge you need to push forward. I am confident we will get through this. I genuinely believe moments like this are a test of grit and speak to the heart of entrepreneurship. We are the innovators, we are the leaders, we will continue building our dreams and serving our communities.

Thank you, Merci, Miigwetch!


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