Audience Collective’s Group Strategy Director, Richard Midgley, explains how brands (and agencies) can not only survive, but thrive during a recession.
“When someone asks you to write a blog about the coming recession, you might think that they are assuming you are so old that you were working during the last recession. And yes – they would be right.
In the 2008 recession, Ponderosa was born. Ponderosa are Audience Collective’s full-service Brand & Marketing agency in the UK. Strange time to start an agency? Maybe so, but we were founded with the backing of one big client, Halewood International – Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer. Crabbie’s was the foundation on which we built Ponderosa and then through a bit of graft and some great teamwork we grew and prospered.”
“I have never claimed to understand financial markets but if the last two weeks shows us anything it is that they are what Matthew McConaughey says they are in The Wolf of Wall Street, “Fugayzi, fugazi. It’s a whazy. It’s a woozie. It’s fairy dust. It doesn’t exist. It’s never landed. It is no matter.” So that means we can both talk it up and talk it down – and still be right! Or wrong? Ultimately, we must be mindful about talking ourselves into a worse recession when we could be talking ourselves into one that isn’t quite so bad. But let’s just for a minute agree that there is a recession coming and we can talk about how we need to prepare for it.”
What are you advising your team and other agencies within the Audience Collective to do?
“Get comfortable with talking about it – don’t put your head in the sand and hope it will go away. It all comes back to communication – have a conversation with your clients. Ask them what they think is going to happen in their world. It’s not so long ago that our world came to a grinding halt at the start of the pandemic, some clients struggled, and others thrived. Some industries have long been seen as “recession-proof” – gambling, smoking, drinking – all the vices that people can’t simply give up. And it’s not just the vices that people can’t give up. They will look for bargains, for better deals and for a bit of added value.
Speak to clients and try to understand how you can add value: can you do more and give a discount in return? Can you provide more services if the client has a freeze on hiring internally? Can you give a volume discount if the client gives you a brief that they didn’t give you before? Also think harder. It has always easier to spend a lot of money than spend a little, so be clever and creative with budgets.”
And what should clients do?
“Speak to your agencies. Be honest about whether you are cutting back or need to save money. Ask them what they can do to help, how they would spend the budget more effectively and ensure that you still get the impact/return that you need. Ask your agency what else they can do for you, use their expertise – more heads are better. If your team’s been cut in half – can your agency fill the gap to support you?
It’s a time for honesty and openness. Lean on your relationships with one another and don’t just hold your breath and hope that things will be OK. Work collectively and get a plan that works.”