Branding in a recession

At the recent Ad Age Media Mavens Awards, Nick Brien spoke about the current recession and the differences it has on marketing and brands than ever before. He states that the usual pattern of the US market having 4 year booms, and then 1 year busts is not the case we are in right now in that we are in for a longer period of downturn. In result it has changed consumers into a much more promotionally driven mindset…for the longer haul.

He goes on to say that instead of the traditional strategies of branding eyeballs, frequency and impressions, we need to drive home more of the hard sell. Price driven, promotionally driven, value driven…(that rumbling you hear is Bill Bernbach screaming from the heavens).

I agree however I think that branding in a recession has always given way to a more active benefit, and it doesn’t mean that we start creating innocuous, boring advertising that reaches the lowest common denominator. The marketing just adjusts the value prop level a notch up in the hierarchy of the message, and like all good advertising, it has to be engaging but extremely relevant.

Now, in the world of recruitment advertising and employer branding….what does this mean? Well here we have a situation in that the recession creates less jobs and unfortunate layoffs. Employer brands are subject to taking hits of negativity and we see more active candidates than passive. The passive candidates become more proactive knowing market conditions are volatile. But the mindset of the candidate is about security and stability. Even though passives are updating their resumes right now, they are less likely to jump ship unless they are forced. So just as consumer advertising is having to adjust, it also applies to talent marketing as well.

Economic slump; Social boom
Now more than ever we feel the power of social networking and social apps. In uncertain times people flock to each other and networks to align themselves up with the right connections. Sort of like creating a virtual safety net. And for the active seekers, they actively pursue channels to employment. Companies are taking advantage of this with more increase in social app marketing. Michael Lazerow of Buddy Media explains.

These apps do wonders by creating a website within a website. And if your content is compelling enough and relevant, it proves to be a nice driver back to your career site. However let’s not forget the principles of social. And that is these markets are conversations. Before you appear within a network, ask yourself what exactly makes your content social. Is it providing a social activity or is it just pushing a message. If your company had to unfortunately lay some employees off, I imagine that recruitment message would not be received very well in these networks.

Watch for this strategic idea
Perhaps the best social strategies center around more company sponsored alumni groups and connector groups connecting to each other. These would be company social groups that help these unfortunate employees who have been laid off to connect with other possibilities. This way social becomes a tool to increase not only employer brand awareness, but to contribute a more positive association to employer brands in a down time. Sort of like a virtual social outplacement network.

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TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide

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