Inflation, Recession, and Marketing Strategy: 4 Tips From Top Gun: Maverick

August 26th, 2022

The long-awaited sequel to Top Gun was a hit amongst our Cobalt Catalysts. Tom Cruise, thrilling flight sequences, sculpted abs on the beach… what’s not to like? Without giving away any spoilers, the movie centers on Tom Cruise’s character Maverick training a team of highly qualified pilots for a seemingly impossible mission. The flight path to achieve the mission required flying at a low altitude weaving through a winding narrow canyon, soaring up over one of the mountains, dropping to the intended target in the bottom of the valley, and then blasting upward at maximum speed to get away fast enough to evade enemy forces.   This stomach-dropping sequence was filmed beautifully and is the perfect visual blueprint for businesses wondering how to navigate the looming peaks and valleys of the 2023 economy. 

“Hit the breaks, and they’ll fly right by.” – Maverick, Top Gun

The after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic compounded by inflation have businesses flying through 2022 at low altitudes, weaving through narrow profit margins as they adapt to increased costs and consumer behavior shifts. For many, the gut instinct is to put the breaks on marketing spending. But, alas, slamming on the brakes would end in disaster for a business, much as it would for a fighter jet.   The current economic climate, in fact, is an opportunity to develop your brand awareness, connect and engage with customers to build loyalty, and increase your digital footprint for long-term sales growth. Ahead of us lies the runway on which you can develop and test new products, marketing tactics, and cross-platform lead generation strategies to power you through the dip and enable blast-off with the economic rebound.  Buckle up for four tips from our Cobalt Catalysts to adjust your flight plan digital marketing plan to maximize results in a tight economy. 

1. “This Is Coffin Corner.”

Recently, we had a customer contact us to ask why their phone had stopped ringing with calls from new customers. It was very awkward when we had to explain that the owner paused their digital marketing services with us as part of a cost-cutting initiative. Of course, the problem was quickly rectified for them when they connected the dots internally between optimizing their digital footprint and sales. Many businesses do stop marketing to cut costs without realizing the flip side: getting fewer new and repeat customers. In fact, the scaling back that happens during an economic recession makes it an even greater opportunity for those companies who do continue to invest in marketing. If you keep pushing the throttle as competition intensity decreases, your company will get more visibility and, ultimately, an increased market share. In addition, a greater abundance of low-quality content on social media opens the door to customers engaging more with your valuable content.  

2. “What the Enemy Doesn’t Know Is Your Limit.”

When the economy shifts, consumer behavior shifts. That’s a fact. Right now, 85% of Americans are “concerned” or “very concerned” about inflation. This means that both B2B and B2C customers will be more mindful about spending. Brands must clearly differentiate themselves from the competition and find new and creative ways to connect with their customers.  Using brand-specific content marketing enables you to: 

  • Tap into social listening to create content that will resonate with and engage your customers.
  • Explore ways to inform and educate. Potential customers want to know how your product or service will solve their problems.
  • Create micro-targeted messaging to reach highly specific customer niches.  
  • Find ways to clearly articulate what makes your company, team, product, or service different than the competition. Be a creative storyteller   
  • Capitalize on current events and 24/7 news cycle content to stay relevant.

3. “Seems Like We’re Not the Only Two Holding on to Old Relics.”

Consumer behavior shifted dramatically through the pandemic and continues to shift in response to the economy. This is the time to take a close look at your product and service lineup to see how you can adapt.  The key is to stay connected to your customers! Customers are more likely to shop with brands and stores they see and hear from on a regular basis. The key is to truly know each of your customer segments and how best to reach them and what content will be the most valuable to each. Consider sending out a monthly newsletter, scheduling fun social media posts that give your business personality, or using retargeting tactics to re-engage past customers.  If cutting back your marketing budget is a necessity, identify niches within your customer base and micro-target those customers to assure that you maximize your investment on whatever money you can allocate to marketing. Advertising on platforms, like Google, is not the place to cut back. Search Engine Optimization, (SEO), requires an ongoing process to be effective.  “Google Search is updated thousands of times a year. What worked yesterday in getting your business on the front page may not work tomorrow.” – Houston Van Nest, Cobalt SEO Specialist  Because the potential customer is already searching for your product or service, Google presents a great opportunity for easy sales. However, since Google is constantly changing its algorithm to improve user experience, SEO tactics must continue to evolve to anticipate and adapt to maximize presence on search engine result pages (SERPS).

4. “Light On. Let’s Turn and Burn.”

It can be easy to fall back on the comfortable marketing strategy that worked for you in the past, but don’t be afraid to try something new! There are new tactics you should add to your 2023 marketing plan when you’re ready to get aggressive. The F-14 Tomcat that Maverick flew in the 1986 movie would not be the first choice to compete in the air today just as outdated marketing tactics aren’t the best choice for effective return on investment. In line with consumer shifts in behavior, marketing shifts to cross-platform video content and streaming platforms can take your digital marketing to mock 10.  “We have seen a significant shift in OTT ad budgets over the last two years. In fact, our clients are now spending 300%-400% more to reach people wherever they are watching streaming content  – Sal Yanez, Cobalt Marketing Operations Manager Over-the-top (OTT) streaming providers such as Hulu, Netflix, or Roku are booming as consumers who are tired of high cable and satellite costs “cut the cord”.  OTT advertising is just one of many new options to reach your customers. The goal of marketing is to get the right message to the right people wherever they are.  

“It’s Not The Plane, It’s The Pilot” 

The only constant in our world is change. Yes, the economy is uncertain right now and while being worried about your business is understandable, there are steps you can take to protect your customer base. A new marketing strategy could position your business to pick up market share even in a downturn.  “The Cobalt Team is the BEST! They have done a fantastic job helping me brand and market my new gym. From logo and website development to fun photos, videos, and social media. Most importantly, I have been able to expand my reach and grow faster than I would have imagined possible.” – Mike Zayas, XYS Prehab & Personal Training  So how do you get started? Talk to one of Cobalt’s experienced digital marketing catalysts to chart a new flight course for marketing strategy.

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