Director of content and communications at AZK Media, Vanessa Mitchell, uncovers why slashing marketing in an economic downturn is a big mistake
To fit in with a leaner budget and ride out tough economic times, marketing doesn't have to stop. It just needs to be approached in a smarter way. Here’s 12 tips to market effectively in a recession:
While the knee jerk reaction in a recession may be to cut B2B marketing spend, this is a massive mistake. For many reasons.
Firstly, when the economy does ramp up again, businesses who have to start marketing from scratch again (even to the point of having to hire new staff) will be months behind the competition. Secondly, is the need to stay in operation by servicing existing and gaining new customers. The ever-hungry 'marketing funnel' still needs to be fed, awareness still has to be raised, the journey from leads to conversions still need to happen.
Importantly marketing is essential to retain existing customers
. If marketing is cut, there's a chance you're jeopardising your existing customers from enjoying their customer journey with you. By pulling the plug on marketing, you drain the information train to your existing customers and they'll notice all the newsletters, product updates, videos, webinars or content they had once enjoyed are now suddenly, gone.
Now that's a huge turn off to customers - and no business can afford this.
B2B Marketers need to now think like B2C and D2C Marketers
B2B marketing is different to B2C or D2C marketing. However, the strategies and marketing models are converging more as marketing is refined and data-driven strategies are put in place. Ultimately, marketing comes down to serving the customer - both potential and existing customers - and this is true no matter what business you work in.
Embrace virtual events/podcasts
B2B Marketing relies heavily on events and trade shows, something not possible during periods of isolation or with leaner budgets. Fortunately, remote events, education seminars, masterclasses and ‘virtual’ events are becoming the norm.
Consumers absolutely love to educate themselves in their free time via podcasts and seminars, provided they are valuable and educational. While you cannot charge a premium for these, they work well to increase awareness of a company, and if they are so valuable as to go viral, they can make the path to intent easier.
Ramp up your thought leadership content
Now is the time to show new and existing customers how valuable your business is to them. By this we do not mean advertorials and sales pitches, we mean valuable, educational content about the space you operate in to increase knowledge in target audiences. Tips, tricks, hacks, how to’s, checklists, factsheets and longer content pieces demonstrating value are not only effective, they can also be placed for free on your website or on LinkedIn, to get your message out there in a cost-effective way.
Thought leadership increases both awareness and interest, plus you’re developing assets your sales teams can share with new and existing customers to help support the customer journey.
Make lead nurture and customer loyalty a priority
In lean times when potential leads may be thinning, now is the time to nurture your existing customers. Using thought leadership, loyalty programs, EDMs, and added value, develop a strategy which allows you to communicate with your existing customers in a helpful, and not annoying way.
Show them you care, give them some value. After all, according to various statistics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The Pareto Principle states 80% of your profits come from just 20% of customers, and a satisfied customer will share your brand with 11 other people. The best part is, these customers are already aware and interested, and have previously shown intent.
Pivot content marketing for lead gen
Now you have a few thought leadership pieces for use on social and on your website, start developing your content.
Build out the content on your website that solve your customer's key pain points, and you can start funnelling audiences through different landing pages. However, remember, the content has to be valuable and educational, not salesy. This is a great way to generate awareness and interest.
Deepen your knowledge of your audience
Now is the time to delve into your existing data and see what it is telling you. Are there some new audiences and segments there to be discovered? Is there a consumer need that has yet to be filled? By refining your data and segments, you can get really personalised with messaging to existing leads using the content you have been building out.
Boost social media efforts
With so many B2B professionals working virtually and online, major B2B social channels like LinkedIn are seeing unprecedented engagement since COVID hit. So now is the time to ensure you're visible on the right channels. Now is the time to experiment a bit with some social media marketing, both organic and paid. Cost per conversion can be very low when optimised correctly.
Improve pain points, CX and UX
To keep those valuable customer segments you’ve established you need, delve into your service and user experience data to see if there’s any drop-off or pain points that can be resolved along the customer journey.
Revisit your overall marketing, inbound and pr strategy
Is your overarching marketing, inbound and pr strategy fundamentally flawed? Perhaps it's not integrated enough or holistic, too fragmented, or worse, doesn't even exist.
In times of recession, investing in a revised, smart marketing strategy can make the difference between weathering the storm with a lean yet effective plan, or your marketing batteries quickly fizzling out. This is when a team of seasoned marketers and media experts
can help. They can come in analyse your business from a fresh perspective, and create a tailored, bespoke strategy that you can either implement in-house, or outsource to a marketing and media agency
that understands the nuances of your industry and customers.
Invest in a marketing partner
Has your marketing budget been cut so you can only afford one or two junior in-house marketers? In this instance, you may need to consider outsourcing some or all of your marketing efforts to a trusted marketing partner.
Imagine how powerful your marketing efforts could be if you have a full team of senior marketers on hand to direct your strategic marketing efforts and help you make your budget work smarter, not harder.
- Vanessa Mitchell is the director of content and communications at AZK Media