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Competitors cut back on marketing? Time to boost your Share of Voice

Updated: Mar 29

The economy has gone a bit sideways. Startup funding is down. Tech companies have laid off 23,670 employees so far in 2024. Times feel tough. It looks like there’s a 50 percent chance of a downward slide (But hey, half say it might go the other way. It’s a toss-up). Safe to say, CEOs and VPs of Marketing are looking at their marketing budgets carefully. 

Now could be exactly the right time to focus your marketing efforts on improving your Share of Voice. What is that, exactly? It’s the overall presence of your brand.

Companies that actually have a recognizable brand have a much easier time to sell more and convert existing customers to higher-priced products and services. And when other companies are cutting back, it might be exactly the right time to take advantage with a strategic marketing campaign.

Competitors cut back on marketing? Time to boost your Share of Voice

Many ways to measure Share of Voice creatively

You actually can track that in numbers and reach of media mentions, social mentions, etc. Let’s say you added up all the news coverage where your company gets quoted or featured. You compare that to the mentions of your top competitors.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you got 25 mentions and all together, the rest of them got 75. (And let’s further simplify, just for the sake of this example, though in reality you’d want to check audience reach, Ad Value Equivalent or something like that, since a quote in Forbes or Business Insider hit has more heft than some plucky, niche news site that gets little traffic). In this case, you’ve got 25 percent of Share of Voice for your industry. 

Share of Voice isn’t exactly a proxy for market share… but in our experience, those who improve Share of Voice have a better shot at getting that additional market share. (All things being equal, it helps to be famous).

So, is right now, as the economy has gone a bit up and down and all over the place, the right time to increase your Share of Voice? Yeah. Now’s the time.

It’s not just about spending more on marketing overall to boost your brand and bring in those leads, as your competition pulls back. It’s about spending it smarter.

When others cut marketing, AirBnB doubled down

AirBnB showed off the premier example of how this can work. During a tough economic period (COVID. ‘Nuff said) AirBnb’s CEO announced the company’s new plan to invest in PR and brand-building campaigns, even though there was no possibility of recouping that investment in the coming weeks or even months (as few were booking anything during lockdowns). This was about preparing for the future. He described this critically-timed Share of Voice venture in Marketing Week:

“When the pandemic hit, we lost 80% of our business and we completely changed our cost structure. And out of that crisis, we made a decision. And the decision we made is we weren’t going to wait for another crisis, another weakened economy or a recession to change how we invest or run the company. So we were going to be lean regardless of the economy,” Chesky explained.

“We are really embracing being a lean organisation, which is partly our functional structure. We’re not a business organisation where you’d have four marketing departments. We have one functional organisation and so that allows us to be quite a bit leaner.”

Thanks to that groundwork, they were able to maintain their strong brand identity even as other competitors like VRBO and have popped up. 

Stanley launched a viral marketing campaign and filled up on Share of Voice

Most consumers are feeling the pinch of high inflation, prompting them to cut back on retail spending. Market analysts declared Black Friday 2023 a “bust”, but one company was still able to convince consumers to spend $50 on a pastel coloured, Instagrammable water bottle. 

Stanley is a company most known (before last year, anyway) for large insulated bottles marketed towards outdoorsmen. They recently decided to target a demographic that will make up 75% of discretionary spending by 2028: women. The method? Influencer marketing. This experiment in marketing brought the company into the modern day, introduced it to a new generation of consumers, and made it the most talked about water bottle brand out there. 

Even during a tough time for the economy, the right targeting elevated Stanley to the front pages of the CBC, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Creative and targeted influencer marketing have turned a $70 million company that’s been around for 100 years into a splashy influencer-fuelled dynamo posting profits to $750 million a year.

Cheers to Heineken for a creative campaign that boosted their Share of Voice

At a time when consumption in the US lagged well behind other countries, Heineken launched a risky marketing campaign for their non-alcoholic Heineken 0.0% product. Again, a well-timed, creative marketing blast in an uncertain time got results. They emerged as the biggest player in the category. 

Heineken committed $50 million to marketing their non-alcoholic beer, and pledged to give away 10 million samples. The company launched their "Cheers with No Alcohol. Now You Can" campaign, to show that just because you’re not drinking, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on social moments at New Years’ Parties and sporting events. 

“We’re in it for five, 10, 20, 50, 100 years, it’s gonna get there,” said Jonnie Cahill, CMO of Heineken USA in 2023. “Now, how quickly and what pace, is always the question, but we’re going to see year after year growth in non-alcoholic beer in the U.S.” 

Heineken 0.0 now makes up 20% of all non-alcoholic beer sales in the US, and with sobriety on the rise, particularly among young people, the brand’s marketing strategy has now paid dividends. It’s the most talked about brand in the category, and it’s all because marketers applied long-term thinking. 

Mattel’s Barbie movie marketing blitz showed how you zig when others zag

“Nobody goes to movies anymore” is the received wisdom – and by and large, maybe it’s even true. Box office sales were hit hard by COVID, dropping global revenue by 71%, and didn’t recover until 2023, when Warner Bros and Mattel committed $150 million to market the Barbie movie (that’s more than the budget of the movie itself!). 

The marketing team left no stone unturned, capitalizing on influencer partnerships, social media, and a tagline that appealed to every audience: “If you love Barbie, if you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.” 

Marketing towards people who had stayed on the sidelines, and been reluctant to return to movie theaters, worked. Barbie raked in $1.45 billion in gross box office sales worldwide, a post-pandemic record, making it the biggest movie of the year. 

Improve your Share of Voice now and increase your Market Share in the future

We can help you get the news coverage that will boost your brand (and make your competitors jealous). Contact the Mind Meld PR agency today



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