I distinctly remember a case study I read about in a college marketing class. It was the story of Kellogg’s and Post and how their advertising strategy differed during the Great Depression.

In the early 1920s, breakfast cereal had been around a while but was still struggling to get market share with oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. So when the Great Depression hit, the two cereal companies weren’t sure how to respond. Post, the market leader at the time, took the conservative approach and cut back on their expenses, particularly advertising. Kellogg’s, on the other hand, moved aggressively into radio and started advertising Rice Krispies. By 1933, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” was successful and Kellogg’s profits had risen nearly 30 percent. This shift made them the leading cereal brand, which they still are today.

Sadly, I’ve already started seeing companies decrease their spending on advertising amidst the COVID 19 crisis. You’d think that during times like this, companies would pivot like Kellogg’s but instead many tighten belts like Post. Studies have shown that companies that strategically spend on advertising during an economic downturn fare better than those who cut advertising spending. So what does this mean for your small business and what do you need to be doing right now?

  1. Don’t overreact. Now is not the time to cut your advertising budget. Instead of cutting your budget, consider how you can shift your advertising to support the current crisis.
  2. Stay consistent. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your eye on the ball. Be sure you remain focused on your goal and continue conversations with your target audience. Freshen up your web design, stay active on social media and take this time to work on your SEO.
  3. Change up your message. You can change your message without changing your goal. The key is knowing this is only temporary. Focus on building trust.
  4. Rethink your product. Kellogg’s launched a new product that resonated with families they were marketing to. Think about what product or service you offer and how you can retool it during a down economy.
  5. Support your network. Now is not the time to burn bridges and tarnish your business relationships. Take care of your business partners and connect with them to see how you can help each other.

Hopefully, this is a short roller coaster ride. We all need to strap ourselves in and get ready for the ups and downs. With the right decisions, you’ll look back and be thankful for what your business learned from the COVID 19 crisis.