In the face of harsh economic times, it is not unusual for marketing budgets to take a hit. However, the impact of subdued marketing could hurt your company's long-term growth prospects. Cutting your marketing budget during a cost of living crisis is arguably the worst time to do so. It could mean less exposure, less lead generation, and less customer loyalty. As a marketing director or marketing manager, it is crucial to stay creative and keep your company's name relevant in the industry. If you are in doubt about how to proceed, this blog will give you top tips on how to use marketing to drive financial resilience, and even growth, during tough economic times.
1. Re-evaluate Your Current Marketing Strategies
Start by reassessing your current marketing strategies, as strategy is key to managing your budget after all. Understanding your business goals and the marketing actions you plan to take to achieve them will help to justify any marketing spend to the finance team. Including Key Performance Indicators in your strategy will help with specific goal setting, and giving these KPIs a timescale will help you track performance and provide your Finance Director with some robust grounds to sign off the spend.
In a crisis, whether you work in B2C or B2B, behaviours change. This means past campaigns may no longer work, providing marketing directors with a challenge to grasp how to reach their target audience. Start by asking yourself, what has changed, how has your market shifted during the crisis and consequently what will your audience need now? With this information, you may likely need to modify your messaging, tone, and call-to-action in response to current reality.
2. Focus on Long-term rather than Short-term Gains
When sales start to dry up you can rest assured that the sales team will start knocking on your door for short term solutions. Don't get so caught up in internal pressures so much that you forget to think long-term. Cutting your marketing budget and focusing on short term sales support may seem advantageous , but it could hurt your long-term growth prospects in the long run. Research by McKinsey & Company shows that after the recession of 2008, companies that had a growth focus, on average saw a total shareholder return of 150% more than their competitors. This shows resilience is vital in times of uncertainty, by continuing a focus on long-term goals the business communicates a consistency and reliability greater than its peers.
3. Invest in more Digital Marketing…and yes, including AI!
Digital platforms have emerged winners during the recent pandemic, with almost everyone online, now more than ever. Therefore, investing more in digital marketing is a sure way to stay relevant and build resilience. Digital marketing strategies, such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), social media campaigns, and content marketing, have even more potential to reach audiences and foster customer loyalty, which is crucial during tough times.
As B2B marketers, you still need to consider the B2C behaviours of your target buyer personas. Where do they get their news? What digital training and development tools do they use? Where do they hang out for fun online? These are all great areas to target and need to be an important part of your digital marketing strategy.
After investing in digital marketing, it is important marketing directors stay aware of its performance. You will need to justify every dollar or pound spent. So staying up to date with the analytics will provide insight into the effectiveness of the method, if the data isn’t aligned with the KPIs set out in the strategy then it might be time to pivot.
AI tools such as chat GPT will undoubtedly speed up certain tasks, but tread carefully before you consider replacing talented staff with technology. As a new report reveals that the number of people working in marketing and advertising globally fell by 14% between 2019 and 2022 there continues to be a shortage of marketing professionals. So if you don't value your staff your competition will!
4. Emphasise value to win customer loyalty
What makes your product stand out from the competition? How does the offer serve the current economic climate? Now is a great time to emphasis the value of your products or services. Emphasising the benefits of your product and the excellent services you offer - as well as amplifying how you address the current economic issues will go a long way in earning customer loyalty. During tough times, customers are more likely to remain loyal to a company they believe delivers value and at an affordable cost.
5. Maintain Brand Presence through Consistency
In challenging times, it may be tempting to change your branding message to fit the current climate. However, this approach could confuse your customers, leading to loss of loyalty. MailChimp highlights the importance of consistency leading to brand recognition, once again emphasising the importance of focusing on long-term goals. Consistency is key and maintaining your brand presence is critical to keeping your brand top-of-mind in the industry.
6. Consider outsourcing
Its a sad fact that you may have to consider redundancies but often this is a pressure placed on a marketing director without the KPIS and sales goals being reduced in line with this. This is another reason why you should fight to keep your marketing budget secured. Using a marketing agency that understands your world and will work in alignment with your goals is a good way to achieve your KPIs with less internal staff. Using an agency such as Join the Dots who are borne from working in house and therefore have walked in your shoes can help you to get the most out of the marketing budget spent with an agency.
Tough economic times require marketing directors to be creative in their approaches to drive up resilience. Cutting your marketing budget may seem like a good idea, but in the long-term, it can hurt your company's growth prospects severely. Re-evaluating your current marketing strategies, focusing on the long-term gains, investing more in digital marketing, adding value to your products, and maintaining brand presence through consistency are some ways to keep your company relevant in the industry. By doing so, businesses can create resilience that will last beyond the current crisis and position themselves for continued success.
Talk to us about how we can help you make the most of your budget and resources during this tough economic climate.