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Marketing lessons for success

By M4G Bureau - December 11, 2023

Marketing expert Sandro Okropiridze, Co-Founder & CEO, STORI, an AI-powered martech platform shares his perspectives on marketing tactics in a challenging economic environment

As the economic downturn sweeps the globe, 2 in 3 SMBs have cut or frozen their budgets. As struggling businesses plan their marketing strategies for 2024, it’s no surprise that Google searches for ’low budget marketing’ jumped by +288% in the past month while searches for ‘marketing in recession’ went up +153% last week alone.

Sandro Okropiridze

Sandro Okropiridze, marketing expert and Co-Founder & CEO, STORI, an AI-powered martech platform, shares his perspectives on Marketing tactics from the Great Depression that are still applicable today. 

According to Sandro, these are the lessons marketers should retain if they aim to succeed. 


1. Incentivising purchases: During the Great Depression, P&G introduced a “cashback guarantee” to reward its customers, providing an incentive to buy its products over other brands. Bringing this tactic into the digital age, businesses can offer discount codes to those who share their purchases on social media, incentivising repeat customers while providing a cheap marketing boost.

2. Diversification: How did General Electric survive the 1930s? Diversification. And there’s a reason why Amazon sells everything from consumer goods to cloud services, despite its humble beginnings as an online book shop. However, you don’t only need to diversify what you sell, but also where you’re selling it. Some 98% of customers plan to shop through social media this year — so utilise live streaming, up your content game, and make full use of this lucrative sales channel.

3. Budget marketing: When the Great Depression hit, P&G didn’t slash its marketing budget. It increased it. Today, cost-efficient digital marketing and data-driven campaigns drive visibility, and — as competitors cut their spending — PPC costs will only decrease. However, sometimes creative content and an engaging voice are all you need to draw in a crowd.

4. Long-term brand building: Downturns don’t last forever and prosperity often follows. That’s why companies such as Coca-Cola have invested heavily in brand-building during previous hardships. Here, modern businesses are fortunate to have social media. Double down on content creation and optimize your strategy. If you can keep your follower count growing, you’ll find yourself in a good position once the economy recovers.

5. Community engagement: Nobody is buying luxuries when they can barely afford a meal, but what you’re losing in sales you can make up for in loyalty. That’s why, during the 1930s, companies such as Chevrolet focused on supporting the community. Initiatives such as “buy one, give one”, where you donate a product for every order you receive, can earn you a glowing reputation. And, in the modern age, social media acts as an amplifier for a good deed.

6. Emotional storytelling: During the Depression, soap brand Ivory used emotional radio advertisements to resonate with and offer hope to struggling families. Today, brands can employ this same strategy online, using content to connect with followers on a personal level. Think video interviews with the workers you support or advice on how to make products last longer.

7. Real-time engagement: Radio broadcasts provided constant information and entertainment during the Great Depression. Social media is the modern-day equivalent. Use timely and engaging content focused on trending topics to offer distraction. And if customers happen to complain, provide a timely response and do your utmost to resolve it — After all, consumers have enough on their plates and you don’t want to make life any harder for those supporting your business.

8. Niche communities: Heading into the 1930s, while those selling luxury fashion found themselves in decline, department store Sears continued to grow, owing to its focus on budget-friendly staples. Evidently, brands can’t rely solely on big-ticket items nor big-spending customers. When revenue is in short supply, you need to capture the attention of even the most niche customer groups. Here, social media offers a wealth of data that brands can use to find target groups, understand their interests, and tailor their approach.

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