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Don’t Let the Supply Chain Silence Your Marketing

The U.S. may be seeing the light at the end of the pandemic health tunnel, but the supply chain continues to be disrupted. As one CEO dealing with the effects of the microchip shortage said: “The supply chain has never been so constrained.”

We see it across our home-related clients, from pool companies to composite deck and dock builders, to brands that supply motors for boats. And the issues extend far beyond those industries. 

These challenges have caused many marketers to wonder whether they should pause marketing efforts to not create demand without supply. 

But, ask yourself this: If you go silent, does the demand remain?

The answer is yes. 

The deeper answer is: if you go silent, you risk someone else taking your brand’s place in the hearts and minds of consumers. You’re either going to be the one that’s top-of-mind when supply chain issues ease and your solution is in stock, or you’re not. Decades worth of case studies prove that to be true.

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Research from McGraw-Hill found that companies that maintained or increased their ad spend during the 1981 recession had sales that were 256% higher than those that didn’t by 1985. 

So, the answer is clear. Keep advertising “on,” but consider pivoting your marketing messages while supply is short. Here are some suggestions to keep consumers interested without widening the supply-demand gap.

Build the Brand, Don’t Sell the Product

Use this time to emphasize or re-position the image of your company. Showcase passionate employees, share new sustainability initiatives, or demonstrate how a product gets created. Set the goal to introduce, re-introduce, or create a deeper connection with consumers than already exists.

Make It Clear You Understand Customers’ Needs and Wants

Even if you can’t fulfill their needs right away, customers want to feel heard and understood. Stay transparent on supply chain issues, gather feedback and show them how you’re acting on it. Also, give consumers things to think about.

For example, use language like: “Ready for a patio? Consider these decking options.” This will position you as a partner, helping them think through bigger purchase decisions.

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Use Language to Make a Wait Sound Exciting or Exclusive

Product scarcity is a powerful marketing tool because customers will feel like they’re missing out on a high-demand but exclusive product. Get them excited for its return with messaging like, “Supplies are limited — pre-order now!” 

Instead of Lead Generation, Make Engagement the Goal

Engagement happens when you bring customers in on the conversation; encourage it through tactics like user-generated content, hashtags, and contests. Don’t forget video can be a strong storytelling format, too. For example, Hafod Hardware’s heartwarming Christmas video was viewed more than 735,000 and shared over 12,500 times on Twitter because it focused on a relatable emotion. Who doesn’t want to approach the holidays with a kid’s sense of wonder?

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Lead with Trust and Values

People no longer buy products; they buy better versions of themselves. Share real-life stories that exemplify how your brand is living up to its values and its promise. Consumers are more likely to share and engage with content when they perceive it as a truth about themselves. 

Differentiate Yourself From the Competition

How does your company stand out?

Are you known as a great place to work, for being more affordable, or for providing an outstanding network of local servicing retailers?

If so, make those points central to your messaging. You can also think about how you solve for customer interests — promote your commitment to local store owners through specialized technical training, customer support and product innovation.

Show How You Can Help Now

If your product requires regular service or maintenance, remind customers of your warranty policy and local servicing retailers who are well-equipped to handle their service needs. Provide a link to your store locator to help customers find the retailer nearest them.

It may be tempting (especially to your CFO) to reduce marketing and advertising spend during a supply chain gridlock. But for the sake of your customers and future revenue, don’t shut it down. If anything, remember this adage: “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.” 

With less noise from the competition, brands that maintain their budget or shift their messaging can get a boost in sales and market share long after the supply chain gets back to speed. 

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