You know one of the things that you’ve already mentioned is that Audience Access is much more than just a digital program. It is built on a chatbot platform that allows you to communicate and collect data so every time anybody accesses that program, bingo!—you collect their cell phone number.

Saying this, what have been the results of this data collection? Has it been successful? Any numbers to share, or anything that’s exciting?

You’re both shaking your head, so okay go ahead tell me what the results have been so far?

So there are two things that Audience Access enables us to do that we weren’t able to do previously. In our ticketing system, there’s one buyer per household and so we really only collect that one buyer’s information, so if Mr. and Mrs. Smith are going to the theater we just have the contact information for Mr. Smith which means that in our efforts to do digital advertising and retargeting we only have Mr. Smith to target. But once we are able to solicit contact information from everybody in the party then we broaden our ability to dynamically target everybody who’s there instead of just the buyer!

In addition, what’s really nice, is we’re able to install our tracking pixels onto the Audience Access platform so that will also help us in optimizing ads that we already have running. Again, because instead of showing the Facebook ad to Mr. Smith, now Mrs. Smith AND Jenny Smith see the ads. So instead of only getting the results for Mr. Smith, Facebook can actually see oh this Facebook ad is attributed to three purchases instead of just one! Oh my God, yeah that’s great! Yeah, so your data leakage is resolved because you now know the people that are sitting in those seats.  And you never were able to collect any information on them, and that can happen with group sales also lots of times. An employer might buy a group of tickets and you only get one email. But now you can get everybody’s when you go back to live performance and so that’s great!

How about you, what’s going on what kind of information? One of the most useful things for us has been we have you buy for this show that we have up. If you buy one ticket you get access to all three episodes of the summer musical so when they watched episode one, and they texted in to get the program, then once episode two drops we can just send them a push notification that reminds them. It says “hey you’re gonna watch tonight we’re about to send you a new link for the new for the new episode.” Also, we have a lot of online events, and we have talkbacks— “ask us anything cocktail parties” things like that and once we’ve got their phone number affiliated with a certain show then we can text them a push notification that says “hey don’t forget we’ve got a cocktail party tonight” or whatever and it really has people responding well to it. And they have the option to stop the text messaging if they want to and that was important to us too and I guess you know that’s law so it works out well but most people have not opted out!

So we had a venue looking to apply for a grant, and one of the questions on that grant application was how many folks had visited one of the local restaurants near the venue? So to do that, they had collected about 2100 text messages or phone numbers, or to be more precise from patrons that had gone to a few shows in the time frame that they were looking for. They then were able to send a specific text message to those patrons 2100 patrons to ask them one simple question which was this

“Please help us by replying with your answer to this one question survey. Did you patronize a local restaurant as part of your visit to the Barter Theatre – Yes or No? Thank you!”

So far, this has gathered over 790 responses. They will then use those responses to finish up that last question on that grant application. But it’s just another cool way that the audience access and those phone numbers can help an organization not just sell more tickets and provide patrons with the experiences that they expect, but to also help the organization receive grant applications by getting surveys completed more quickly!

Now they could have sent more questions, but in this case, they only needed the one question answered. But you could make a survey monkey questionnaire if there are more questions that need to get answered, but it just shows that the patrons are excited about the arts and that they’re willing to take a little time to help the arts out when they know that the arts need help.

So texting is a great way to get that done. I hope this helps you.

From my perspective the other wonderful thing about digital is that it’s digital and you can change it, you can add advertisers halfway through the run, if you notice a typo you can go in and change it. I’ve heard horror stories of past years printing programs and then noticing an error and having to do like a thirty thousand dollar reprint of programs. It makes my job a lot less stressful to know that it’s not written in stone and can make changes up to the last second or beyond!

Economic slumps are bound to happen from time to time. Looking back at the past few decades we can remember the “Great Recession” and the housing market crash of 2008, or the deep economic downturn after September 11th, 2001. While we never look forward to a recession, from a marketing perspective, these challenging months become a rare opportunity to connect with our target markets and send a positive message to prospective customers.

Whether your business is B2B or B2C, your marketing message during difficult times should shift towards a tone of community involvement, to create an ongoing dialogue between your customers and staff.

This article is the first of two. Here, we’ll explain why recessions become the perfect time to double-down on your marketing efforts and explore ways your marketing message must change. For part two, we’ve developed a guide of actionable ideas you can take to move forward with, right now.

First, let’s acknowledge that:

  • Know that during a recession, your marketing tactics and strategies will change.
  • Your message must be dynamic and fluid, and you’ll need to move quickly.

Before we get into any of that, let’s have a quick refresher about marketing strategies and tactics during recessions.

Marketing Strategies v. Marketing Tactics During Economic Contractions

We’ve touched on this with other marketing blogs. Marketing strategies are the primary goals you’ll be working towards with your advertising. Recession goals very likely be different from your “good times” goals. For instance, in 2019 when the economy was booming, you may have focused on increasing the size of orders customers were placing or creating a wider profit margin. Now in 2020, you’ll be looking to solidify your relationships with customers.

Tactics are the specific actions your organization was taking to achieve your goals. There are thousands of marketing tactics, but yours might have been:

Naturally, when your marketing strategies change, many of your tactics will need to be adjusted. So the question quickly becomes: What messages matter most during a recession? And how can we spread that message soon?

Marketing During a Recession — Recognize Changes in Consumer Behavior Proactively 

During the last economic contraction in 2009, McKinsey research found that “in any given category, an average of 18 percent of consumer-packaged-goods customers bought lower-priced brands… Of the consumers who switched to cheaper products, 46 percent said they performed better than expected, and the large majority of these consumers said the performance of such products was much better than expected. As a result, 34 percent of the switchers said they no longer preferred higher-priced products.”

  • Those same studies found an additional 41 percent said that they still preferred the premium brand, but no longer felt it was worth a higher price.

As we can imagine, changes in consumer behavior that affect B2C sellers ultimately lead to changes in the B2B realm. When end-users stop choosing specifically top-shelf brands, providers of raw materials or packaging feel the shift.

Consumers don’t stop buying when a recession strikesbut they do change buying behaviors.

To put a finer point on it:

  • They are far slower to make significant purchases — cars, homes, appliances, and the like.
  • They’ll spend more time using technology to research first-time purchases — and first-time providers — even if these aren’t significant buys.
  • Consumers may switch from more prestigious or costly brands to more economical versions of the items they deem essential.
  • Hoarding is an example of unusual behavior that may rear its head among consumers during a recession. In these instances, consumers won’t care what level product they’re purchasing, as long as they’re buying enough of it.

It becomes a balancing act for marketing professionals. You may find yourself asking: “How can we attract new business and keep margins healthy while competing with economy brands?”

 But you’re asking the wrong question!

Your goal during an economic contraction should be to encourage brand awareness and promote a sense of community among your customers, centered around the brand. Your questions should read more like:

  • How can I use my product/service to bring customers together?
  • Do I have platforms in place to promote a sense of community among my customers?
  • How can my brand provide a memorable service during a time of upheaval?
  • What can we do to make customers feel this product is healthy and safe?
  • Is my company behaving in socially responsible ways that will be remembered later?
  • How can I add value to my high-end products to prevent cautious buyers from switching brands?

The Slippery Slope of Price-based Marketing

Understand that price-based selling (advertising your product as the most affordable option) is a decision you’ll never be able to come back from, once it’s made.

If your message has always been centered around being the cheapest choice, that’s one thing. But don’t go looking to change your entire reputation from a luxury brand to an economical one during a recession.

  • Once you drop the prestige level, it’s nearly impossible to come back up.
  • You’ll also lose dedicated luxury-level customers.

Value-based marketing can be worthwhile during a recession, but your new marketing strategies and tactics mustn’t appear too opportunistic. You risk losing your entire customer base.

Instead, find ways to add value to your products to keep them competitive with lower-priced brands, and focus on customer loyalty.

For instance, let’s imagine you sell high-end shampoos and bath goods. You sell B2C on your website and B2B to salons and spas. Due to the COVID-19 recession, sales are down by 60%.

  • If you were to drop prices down to “economy” brand levels and push into discount department store retails space, you’re looking for a piece of market share that’s already seriously competitive.
  • Furthermore, your current customers will question the move — did you change your formula? Is this product as good as it once was?
  • Once you drop your price and placement, your luxury-level customers will either start purchasing a different luxury-level brand OR consider trying all the other products in the economy shelves. Either way, you’ve lost them for a slimmer margin on a more competitive shelf.

You’re far better off creating value promotions and encouraging customer dialogue with technology. For instance, sell your luxury shampoo at the same price but include a free bottle of bubble bath product for your customers to try. Ask them to review the product on your website or forum, and offer them a significant coupon or gift certificate for doing so. Remember, you don’t want to lose prestige or lower your future margins, but you can get them interested in a new product.

Marketing during a recession becomes all about building your relationships with users. To that end, let’s talk about the right kinds of messages that consumers want to hear.

Sending the Right Message with Your Marketing Efforts

American consumers want to feel healthy and safe during times of economic instability. A focus on family health or personal wellness is ideal, as are concepts of community and togetherness. Messages of financial security or easing your customers’ concerns about their ability to pay bills are incredibly meaningful during these times.

As you see, your marketing strategies become less about increasing order size, and more focused on supporting your customers emotionally – even financially! This is your turn to give back in whatever way is appropriate for your organization.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article, it’s a bit longer than what we usually write. Stay tuned for Part II, where we’ll provide you with an actionable guide for recession marketing, and explain ways you can build community involvement around your brand.

The Great Depression was a troubled time in US history. Poverty, unemployment, and supply rationing defined the times. Some US businesses failed the test, while others weathered the storm – and eventually came out ahead – with either increased market share or a reliable reputation.

While our purpose here isn’t to dissect the political and historical reasons for the depression, it’s essential to recognize the financial climate during those times. In sum, the national income dropped roughly 60% in a matter of a few years – from $87.8 billion in 1929 to $75.7 billion in 1930 to just $42.5 billion in 1932.

Advertising During the Great Depression at a Glance

As the economy tanked, advertising became more important and a lot shadier.

  • Advertisers of the day struggled to find effective marketing strategies.
  • Many launched into a frantic battle of ferocious competition and fear-mongering, as they sought to win US consumers dwindling dollars.
  • Let’s not forget there was little regulation of “truth in advertising” at the time, so back-biting competitors were likely to make unrealistic claims or even tell blatant lies to the public with their marketing.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) did exist, and an energetic truth in advertising campaign was in the works. But it was a young organization, and communications needed to be made mostly by US mail, phone calls and wire. The FTC’s response to complaints was naturally much slower than today.

Print advertising reigned. Radio was blossoming. It was a slippery, shady time for advertisers.

But not for Cadillac.

Cadillac Built Their Legendary Luxury Image During the Great Depression

Throughout the Thirties, Cadillac built its brand by manufacturing and marketing the most exclusive luxury vehicles available on the market. Cadillac already had a reputation for luxury and technology, thanks to their innovations like the first electric start ignition and the first enclosed cabin and continued to build on tech advancements, driver comfort, performance, and luxury. They were forced to scale back production but never dropped their prices. Nor did they make any sacrifices in the quality or performance departments.

  • While competitors like Packard made-do by producing median cost vehicles for the average consumer, Cadillac produced significantly smaller numbers of extraordinary cars.

“Foremost among them was that magnificent 1930 surprise, the Sixteen, carrying an overhead-valve, 452-cubic-inch V-16 engine producing 165 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Horsepower was increased to 185 in 1934,” according to the auto editors of Consumers Guide.

Let’s not forget, these vehicles came at premium costs – ranging from about $5,000 to $10,000 – the kind of money folks could spend on a new house! It was a time when the average working family couldn’t afford a second vehicle, much less a luxury vehicle worth more than their home. Only the most affluent, the upper-crust, could dare to own them.

Their print advertising was elegant, simple and never felt rushed.

Was it All in the Advertising?

Today, we can speculate that one of the reasons Cadillac held on to the luxury auto audience was that it was a member of the GM family, with other makes and models to fill in the gaps in their bottom line from time to time. And that might – or might not – be true.

The fact remains that an unbending dedication to luxury vehicles branded the company, for generations to come, as the very best. Cadillac didn’t deign to compete for the average working income but waited for the truly wealthy to approach. Decades passed before Cadillac began offering more economical options, but they were still among the highest-priced and most respected vehicles on the road.

Our Role

Here at Onstage, our primary mission is to provide luxury program books, and digital signage for the performing artsOur audience is wealthy and well educated, and sometimes thrifty. They recognize the value of private education, higher learning, and the reputation of quality brands. Want to learn more about marketing to an affluent audience? Reach out to our branding experts today!

Related Reading & Resources:

Influence of Advertising During the Great Depression

FTC: Truth in Advertising

Have no doubt that global, national, and even local level catastrophes should have a profound effect on your marketing thinking. But in different ways than you probably think!

For twenty years, Onstage has been providing luxury-level advertising across the US. We’ve been here through US tragedies and crises like the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the Housing Market & Stock Market Crash of 2008 and widespread weather crises like the 2015 – 2016 Winter Storm Goliath, to name a few.

Yes, your advertising during a crisis needs to be thoughtful. A genuine crisis may even be cause for a total re-brand. But if you learn one thing from the internet today, let it be this: don’t pull your ad budget during a crisis. Now is the time to go all in. But let’s pause that thought for a moment, and take a look at marketing messages as they related to the current novel Coronavirus situation in the US.

Kentucky Fried Chicken Pulls “Finger-Lickin’ Good” Ads During 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

KFC pulled advertising that encouraged finger-licking as of 3/12/2020 – and that makes good sense! US consumers are hyper-aware of hygiene, hand washing, and sterilization. Nothing would be a bigger turn-off to consumers right now than the idea of licking their fingers. We’ll call this the “Eww factor.”

We’re marketing masters at Onstage, not doctors. So we’re not here to talk about fatality rates or communicability of COVD-19. What matters to us is that US consumers are behaving in a remarkably different way. And while news media likes to tout this as “the new normal,” we’ve been around this block enough to believe strongly that things will settle back down in a month or two.

Which means that savvy marketing professionals are:

  • Reviewing their campaigns to pull anything that could give consumers the “Eww factor.”
  • Doubling-down on messages relating to health, safety, cleanliness, hygiene, insurance, etc.
  • Jumping in fast when advertising sales reps call with special prices and deals.

The past few years have been excellent for US businesses, and we’ve blogged about that a lot. We’re thrilled that so many small businesses have sprung up! However, young organizations and inexperienced marketing staff might not realize just how “low it can go” and how challenging it can be to do business during a wobbly economy and unusual consumer behavior.

In an effort to maintain their bottom line, many of these young businesses will pull their ad budget in part or in whole. And that will be a fatal mistake.

As Hard As It Sounds, Now is the Time to Boost Your Marketing Budget

Young organizations that reduce their marketing budgets during a crisis are very likely to fail. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) published some excellent reading on the topic, back in 2009, right after the housing market crash. Those were tough years for business.

  • We’ll summarize HBR’s research to say that during an economic downturn, all segments become more selective about their spending. No major revelations there!
  • The businesses that ride out the storm are the ones who adjust their message accordingly and PUSH IT, while their competitors shrink back into the shadows.

We realize that budgeting can be tough during a slowdown, especially this early in the year. It probably feels like you were just getting comfortable with your 2020 goals and budgets.

Your Advertising Budget is the Last Place to Cut Funds During a Crisis

If your business is going to survive a genuine crisis, you need to look at every little nook and cranny for cutting back. Inexperienced marketers may think their marketing budget is a no-brainer, but that thinking will be their fatal error. Tightening up cost-cutting in other areas so that your marketing budget gets impacted as little as possible will make your company come out of any crisis stronger. Marketing during a crisis becomes the defining moment for businesses.

We’re All In This Together

Remember, we’re all in this together! There is a ton of advice, news, blog posts, social posts, etc. out there that will drive anyone crazy and make anyone think the world if coming to an end. Obviously, our advice is easier said than done. But if you truly believe in the American way, we will get through this crisis just as we have every other crisis before!

We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read our marketing blogs during these interesting times. We certainly enjoy writing them. If you’d like to learn more about re-branding during a crisis, or advertising to the most affluent of consumers, reach out to us today! We’d love to hear from you.

Related Reading & Resources:

Campaign US: Advertising is in Crisis, But it’s Not Because it Doesn’t Work

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