The odds of a recession are on the rise, and as a large or small business, you'll need a plan to help your organization continue to grow, even through challenging times.
While we'd agree marketing budgets were still recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with something as serious as the looming economic downturn, it’s natural to get overwhelmed.
If you were about to start cutting costs blindly on what may look like lower-priority initiatives, take a breather and continue reading. Our strategies will help you keep your marketing budget under control while making your business recession-proof.
Strategy 1: Focus on experience and humanizing virtual connections
Today's market values authenticity and excellent customer experience. And one of the most important ways to get your target audience connected to your brand is by humanizing the virtual connections you create. This starts internally, with an employee experience strategy that fosters collaboration and teamwork, and transcends into doing the same for the people you’re trying to cater to.
Strategy 2: Market to existing clients
Having a loyal customer base is your one true asset during a recession. It’s 5-25 times cheaper and definitely more effective to market your products to your existing clients rather than investing in attracting and winning new ones.
So make sure your existing clients know you appreciate them by keeping in touch through appreciative emails, exclusive (virtual) events, and season-appropriate greetings. After all, they are the ones who'll continue to generate repeat business, and best of all, recommend you to other prospects.
Strategy 3: Lean on consistent branding
No matter which marketing tactics you'll use to navigate a crisis, maintaining consistent branding is critical. And when you're communicating in multiple languages, ensuring it's culturally relevant may require adaptations for example in colors or messaging.
Strategy 4: Use content marketing to attract new customers
Whether you're new to inbound marketing or starting out, if there's a time to explore content marketing strategies to the fullest is during a crisis, as the name indicates, there's no ad investment needed.
Start by auditing which tools and capabilities you have in-house, and where you'd need external support. Consider SEO content strategy and implementation, website content management (including translations if you're managing content in multiple languages), social media and email marketing as the basics.
Orchestrating all those tactics in a customer-centric way will ensure your brand gets exposed to the right audiences, they engage when they're ready and you keep feeding those warm leads to the sales pipeline.
Strategy 5: Analyze your competitors
Understanding your competition is one of the smartest strategies you can use. You can take advantage of SEO tools to audit competitors' content, see which keywords they're best ranked for on each local market, and also where they have gaps that you're better positioned to fill. The rule of thumb is: find where your competition is lacking and capitalize on what they fail to do.
Strategy 6: Keep your content smart
Re-thinking and re-organizing your content flow is crucial. Although some people may have more time to spend surfing the net these days, make sure your content follows the quality over quantity rule.
While keeping your audience up to date with the latest trends is one important part of content production, user-generated content is another great way to highlight what your organization has to offer, in an authentic way.
You might also consider investing your time in repurposing existing content instead of creating new pieces from scratch. You can transform content into different formats (such as high-in-demand video), or update it so it keeps fresh to the eyes of search engines (and readers).
Reshaping and re-distributing content is also maximizing your impact-to-revenue with key strategic pieces, increasing the chances they'll reach higher organic performance.
Strategy 7: From in-person to virtual (and beyond)
Virtual events have been around for quite some time, but the quick turnover from a physical event to an online one has become a recent lesson learned for marketers.
Starting and extending conversations can be done through a series of different methods that don't necessarily involve travel or other heafty expenses, while contributing to our environmental sustainability. For example, complimentary webinars or online workshops, 1:1 virtual sessions with experts, product demos – even using AR and VR technology for a more interactive experience.
Whatever the format, just remember to stray away from the mundane PowerPoint presentations and pre-recorded sessions. If your audience is multilingual, then interpreting is imperative to keep the experience personalized, however big or small the group. Stay creative!
There's no shortage of companies that have shown significant growth during a recession thanks to marketing efforts, so don't expect the worst. Kellogg's saw their profits boom by 30% during the 1920s great depression, Toyota emerged as the top imported carmaker in the United States after the 1973-75 recession, and Amazon grew its sales by 28% while the world was in recession back in 2008/2009.
Bottom line: hold on tight to your marketing budget and don't suspend all your efforts just because there's a crisis looming. There's no doubt that marketing during times of crisis is even more challenging, especially when customer behavior is evolving at the same time.
So make sure you optimize your budget and are smart about priorities to accompany your customers on their growth journey as well.
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