When it comes to economic recessions, we know that consumers tend to tighten their wallets and spend only when necessary. As a business owner, it may seem natural to do the same with your budget.
Marketing and advertising are two of the areas that typically hit the chopping block first when businesses are looking to cut expenses. At first glance, that might make sense, as marketing is typically not related to core operational needs. But the fact is cutting your marketing budget can have serious negative ramifications for your business when it comes to surviving a recession and accelerating once it's over. Why is that?
The Importance of Marketing in a Recession
Simply put, to survive a recession, your business needs cash flow, which comes from sales. To generate those sales, you need to continue reaching your customers and convincing them to buy. Unless your business is one of your industry's best-known brands, that only happens through marketing.
Perhaps more importantly, marketing during a recession positions your business for better growth on the other side. While your competitors are hunkering down, you can pick up valuable brand awareness and market share that will pay off as consumers regain confidence. If you're skeptical, consider this study by the International Journal of Business and Social Science, which found businesses that kept advertising during a recession saw a nearly 5% increase in market share.
None of this is to say your marketing shouldn't change during a recession. When faced with tighter budgets, smart marketers know the importance of targeting your efforts and doing more with less. You just don't want it to disappear all together.
If your business is looking at changing your marketing approach to prepare for a looming recession, here are four suggestions from our expert digital marketers.
3 Ways to Adapt Your Marketing for a Recession
1. Augment Your Marketing Staff
One of the first ways businesses pump the brakes during a recession is to freeze their hiring or reduce their headcounts. A July 2022 poll by Alignable, for example, found that 45% of small business owners in the U.S. have already frozen hiring ahead of expectations for a recession later this year.
For business owners needing to save money but also wanting to continue their marketing efforts, staff augmentation services like those offered by Informatics can be the solution. By working with a digital marketing agency, you can access expert marketing help without the added costs of a full-time employee.
As an added bonus, the flexibility of a marketing retainer plan allows you to focus on specific digital marketing efforts and then shift to something else entirely without the need for retraining.
2. Over-Communicate Your Value Proposition
Not only are prospective customers more hesitant to spend during a recession, but current customers can also begin questioning the value your business offers them.
When customers re-evaluate their budgets, they typically categorize their spending into two buckets: essential and non-essential. This means you need to be doing everything you can to be in their "essential" bucket. To do that, you need to justify why your product or service is worth their money.
Whether it's making your customer's life easier or more enjoyable, or saving a B2B customer money on a key service, your marketing team needs to drill on your value proposition across every channel. That may mean creating new creative or adjusting your existing campaigns—just don't assume you can stick with the status quo, even if it's currently performing well.
3. Use More Cost-Effective Digital Marketing Efforts
While brand awareness campaigns are always important to maintaining your image, during a recession, most of your efforts (and budget) should focus on generating sales from your targeted audiences for the reasons we outlined above.
With budgetary constraints in mind, you'll want to consider digital marketing methods that give you the most bang for your buck. We here at Informatics are big fans of the following channels:
Geofencing campaigns are targeted primarily based on physical location, and extremely cost-effective considering their hyper-targeted nature. When someone enters a specific geographic area, they'll be eligible to see your digital ads on any device. If you're not attending your annual conference to save some money, try geofencing it instead to ensure your brand is still present!
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for communicating with customers about upcoming sales, product releases, or important news.
According to HubSpot, marketing emails on average generate $42 for every $1 spent, giving them an effective ROI of 4,200%. You can also utilize preset, automated emails or drip campaigns to push your most engaged recipients down the sales funnel with a minimum of hands-on effort by your digital marketing team.
Have your heard of Honey.com or RetailMeNot? If you're an ecommerce business, why not?
Affiliate advertising involves working with a third-party publisher like Honey to promote your company's products, coupons, and deals (affiliate links) to a consumer (buyer). Those publishers then receive a commission on what they sell on your behalf. Affiliate marketing, when done right, can produce great ROI and big sales for your company.
Recessions can be game-changing events for businesses, and focusing your marketing strategy is vital to surviving and growing. If you need help right-sizing your marketing approach ahead of the next downturn, contact the experts at Informatics today!
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