Marketing in a Downturn

2023 has been quite the rollercoaster ride. Like many businesses, the first half of this year was tough for us. I’ve seen ups and downs in business for over 20 years, but this one felt different. There was talk of new projects and opportunities, and businesses had money to spend. But due to uncertainty about interest rates, living costs, and inflation, they were hesitant to spend.

And then there was the whole wine thing—the mainstay of our client base is experiencing the worst downturn in recent memory. Oversupply, falling exports and changing consumer tastes are having a crippling effect on many parts of the industry. Whilst the China tariffs may not have started the downturn, it certainly hasn’t helped. 

So, what did we do? Instead of panicking, we took action. We launched a new website, improved how we manage sales and clients, and ramped up marketing. We focused on our specialty—marketing and brand development for the drinks industry. We knew that things would turn and were determined to be at the forefront of the industry’s collective mind when it did. And did it what! We now have 12 months of work to be completed in the next 6 months. But hey, nobody’s complaining.

So, what, if anything, could you wonderful wine industry professionals take from this story? Yes, this is a tough time, maybe the toughest in 30 years in the wine business. But hiding won’t help. Here are 3 reasons to keep marketing through this (and the next) economic downturn:

1. You’ll get more bang for your buck
Everyone is feeling it, and eager to do business. We’re talking supply and demand pressures coming into play, and right now you are in the power seat in the client/vendor relationship. 

2. Brand builds trust
When times are tough, people buy goods and services from brands they trust. They don’t have the financial leeway to experiment with their purchases. We saw this during the Pandemic and are seeing it again here. The brand keepers that kept up the hard work building a brand that stands for something unique in the market, a brand people trust, will be reaping the rewards now. 

3. This too shall pass
Marketing spend is often the first casualty of an economic downturn, but this is precisely the time to maintain it. Whilst your competitors have paused their investment, you continue to build your brand and grow your audience. When things turn, as they always do, you’ll be streets ahead with your competition playing catchup. 

In short, 2023 has been a wild ride. We faced challenges but learned that resilience matters. Our journey shows that even in tough times, sticking to your marketing and brand building pays off. By doing this, you’re not just surviving but thriving through hard times.

Matt Remphrey

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