In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies — Kellogg and Post — dominated the market for packaged cereal. And Post was the market leader. But then along came The Great Depression ..

Kellogg ‘Vs’ Post. How Kellogg won the cereal wars of the great depression. (The rest, as they say, is history.)

Ibelieve that a business — your business, my marketing business, any business — is a bet with the future.

A bet that what you sell today will still sell tomorrow.

Of course, whatever niche you’re in, there will be others — often with similar backgrounds — willing to wake up every day and roll the dice against you.

And sure enough, like you they will be making informed, incremental adjustments on their wagers based on changing customer tastes or needs or new disruptive entrants in the market.

Now, you can win big.

Move to the country.

Buy a Ferrari 812 Superfast and pack the kids off to boarding school.

Or, knowing the inevitability of all bets eventually turning sour, you can also — like Google — use your money to bet on your usurper.

And yes, you can also bet everything on the wrong hunch.

I’ve been there.

More than once.

But what doesn’t kill you, right?

Now, given that gambling isn’t an exact science, in the betting against the future business, you can trust that Lady Luck has got your number sown into her cotton socks.

And gut instinct is a real thing.

As is hard work, learning by mistakes, doing your homework, working as a team and listening to mentors.

And there are millions of books and articles penned by future-proofing gurus all betting that you’d cough up for their advice — until that bet doesn’t pay off anymore and the agent stops calling.

But here’s the deal:

No one can predict the future.

The fall of an American Icon

Not with any degree of certainty.

But what often does work is learning from history.

Which brings me to one of my favourite case studies:

How Kellogg Won the Cereal Wars of The Great Depression.

In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies — Kellogg and Post — dominated the market for packaged cereal.

How Kellogg Won the Cereal Wars of The Great Depression ..

And Post was the market leader.

But then along came The Great Depression.

Given that no one knew what would happen to consumer demand, it was time to make bold decisions.

Post did the predictable, prudent thing: cut costs and cut back on advertising.

But Kellogg — doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal.

See, Kellogg realised that even when times were hard, people were receptive to new ideas ..

How Kellogg Won the Cereal Wars of The Great Depression ..

And when the time came when people could afford cereal again ..

Kellogg was the only brand in town.

The rest is, as they say, history.

And that’s the big lesson here.

And you’ll see it more and more as we go through these hard times too.

Some brands will hunker down and wait it out.

While others — the hungrier ones more willing to take a bet that you’re still listening now and will remember them in the brighter future — will fill the void.

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This quote sums everything up succinctly:

When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise. Your marketing activities should increase, not decrease.

Times are bad now.

It’s time to bet on your brand being there when things are better.

Expect the best.

Prepare for the worst.

Capitalise on what comes ..

Your business goal (that is, making money) is intimately tied to how well your brand can empathise with the needs of your customers. How are you going to move someone to pull out their debit card every time if you don’t wrap up your marketing copy in water tight logic with killer emotional intent?

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