When the going gets tough, marketing budgets are often the first to get axed. As marketers, we’re used to having to convince brands that investment in marketing is necessary, even in good times. That’s why we are prepared to argue the case for marketing during tough times.
Finding your initiatives on the chopping block? Read on to learn how to convince those at the top that the need for marketing is non-negotiable.
Drastic Cuts Create Bigger Problems Later
For many companies, it seems like a no-brainer to drastically cut marketing budgets. This is because marketing cuts don’t necessarily lead to layoffs. Still, drastic budget slicing leaves marketing staff frustrated and in a larger hole down the road.
The plain and simple fact is nothing is permanent, even a recession. Eventually, there will be a slow climb out followed by an increased period of growth. If you take resources away from your marketing team now, they’ll be digging themselves out of a much larger hole than their competitors come recovery time. And that won’t only leave the marketing department in trouble. Your whole company will be left in a state of repair while your competitors benefit from your struggle.
Drastic cuts come from thinking short-term. Success is all about the long game. And even if some cuts are necessary, it’s best to leave it up to the marketing team to decide what they can put on pause.
You Can’t Leave Loyal Customers Behind
Even in times of trouble, loyal customers are the primary source of sales and the best chance for growth. During a recession, it’s unlikely you’ll be attracting new business. You need to focus on keeping the customers you have.
We’ve seen a lot of examples of consumers sharing their support of the local businesses. That’s because they are familiar with the products and services of those businesses, and they don’t want them to go away. Even those who are facing economic hardships may be willing to sacrifice in other areas in order to support their favorite small businesses.
That being said, you need to stay top-of-mind in order to motivate these customers to support you. Social content and marketing are some of the best ways to stay in front of your customers, often for not a lot of money. Shelling out a few extra dollars may not be a bad idea either, it pays to invest in your company! Read our recent post about digital advertising during a pandemic to learn more.
You Need The Data
Digital marketing allows you to collect precise, specific, real-time data. And if there’s a time to measure and analyze everything, it’s during a tough economic period.
Knowing exactly what your campaigns are doing for your brand is vital, as it allows for quick pivots and increased flexibility. Digital ad-targeting options make it easy to adapt campaigns quickly. That way, you can leave anything that’s not working on the cutting room floor.
A great example of a quick pivot is Nike’s Stay At Home Campaign.
Tracking results and behaviors will also provide you with solid data for the future. Knowing how your target audience changes in a downturn or what campaigns succeeded or fell flat will put you in a better position when the inevitable next recession starts.
Staying Active Shows Flexibility & Resilience
Being on top of your digital presence during this time will demonstrate your brand’s flexibility and resilience. As you find ways to adapt, your audience will develop further confidence in your product or service.
McKinsey & Company reports that many of the shifts in customer behavior caused by the COVID crisis are here to stay. This opens the potential for companies to proactively nudge consumers toward behaviors that are likely to stick around. Be one of the first to embrace these changes, and your brand will be a leader in shaping customer experience in the new normal.
In order to find your new normal, you’ll need to try out new ways to connect with your consumers. And that requires, you guessed it, resources. There may be some trial and error involved, but with your ear to the ground and awareness of the need to be flexible, your efforts will be money well spent.
Constant Evaluation Is Necessary
Understanding the psychology of consumers during difficult times is arguably more important than in prosperous periods. Not only do you need to understand what your target audience is experiencing, but you also need to anticipate their needs. You can’t rely on what’s worked in the past, and you’ll need the resources to find out what needs to change.
Social listening can play a huge role in understanding how your customers are acting during difficult times. Monitoring this activity on a regular basis is ideal. And while it may seem counterintuitive when money is tight, launching a market research campaign can also be helpful.
The consumers you knew before the downturn are not going to be the same during or after. Harvard Business Review outlined four types of consumers during the 2008-9 recession, which can be seen in the chart below.
These four segments are a good start but aren’t necessarily the same segments we are dealing with this time around. That’s why additional research into what your audience is thinking and how they are acting can be a huge help in outlining your survival plan.
Marketing During Tough Times Is Essential
As outlined above, there are many reasons that can be used to argue the case for marketing during tough times. Next time you’re asked to defend your budget, use this post as an outline for your argument. History shows that brands that stay relevant during economic downturns end up benefitting in more ways than one.
Do you change your marketing strategy during tough times? What marketing tactics are non-negotiable for you? Tell us in the comments!
Leah K. Williams
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