Securing the future of your B2B brand: investing in your marketing during a recession
A recession is upon us. As the economy continues to struggle post-pandemic, spending habits are changing, interest rates are soaring, belts are tightening, ad spends are being cut, marketing budgets are being re-evaluated, and business owners and CFOs are looking to pull back on marketing spend.
Contrary to what you might think, maintaining brand investment is essential during economic uncertainty and is critical in helping your brand stay afloat – which is where a recession marketing strategy comes in.
Recessions force brands and businesses to save money where possible – and even if we aren’t yet in a recession, we are already beginning to feel the pinch of an economic downturn. With the B2B sector making up 70% of GDP (McKinsey & Company, 2021) brands operating in this market are likely to be the first to feel the impact. By investing in the right prospects and right people, brand investment can help you to stay afloat during hard economic times.
Investing in your B2B brand is essential when it comes to increasing your notoriety, boosting brand awareness, driving your market share and kickstarting a new period of growth. While no brand is recession-proof, there are definitely steps brands can take to safeguard their longevity in the face of great recessions.
Here are four crucial steps you can take to secure the long-term success of your business before, during, and after a recession:
A clear and well defined business focus
As business competitors pull investment in ‘non-essential’ areas such as marketing, now is your opportunity to make yourself known and occupy the market space. At the centre of all strong brands, lies a firm understanding of who they are, what they’re here to do and how they can serve their customer base. Make sure that you – and your employees – are up to speed with your brand’s strategic purpose, play to your strengths, and embrace opportunities to grow. Your marketing efforts will have a long-term impact on your brand perception and customer retention – if you pull your marketing spend, you will likely see the ramifications further down the line.
Compelling and targeted message
During recessions, businesses tend to pause or cut back on their communications. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to do the same and instead, seize the opportunity to expand your field of influence and connect with your target customers on a deeply emotional level.
A great way of doing this is through compelling and targeted messaging. Whether it’s digital marketing, stepping up your SEO game to boost your search engine ranking or being active on social media, provide your customers with customer experiences that keep them engaged. Consider positioning yourself as a market leader by sharing credible thought leadership pieces on a company blog, using LinkedIn to kickstart that all-important dialogue through shared articles and opinions, or even using social media channels to create video content that resonates widely.
Think about where your target audience receives information – and make sure that you’re actively producing material for those marketing channels – be it video, social media, auditory, or printed form. Shared experiences form the foundation of most relationships, so be sure to share your experiences and impart your knowledge – proving that you don’t just talk the talk – but walk the walk.
Get up close and personal with your clients
Initiate direct relationships with your future clients, and be prepared to innovate continually to refine your offering. It’s key to stay engaged in conversations with both existing and prospective clients, so be sure to conduct market research to see where you’re forging connections, and where you could improve. Hosting an event for both existing and prospective clients is a great way of building relationships and discovering new opportunities. Not only does it allow you to connect with new clients and introduce them to your brand, but it permits existing clients to instil trust, build confidence, and share positive experiences with new prospects.
Never stop evaluating your ROI
Don’t leave room for guesswork – knowledge is power, so be sure to evaluate your ROI. Your actions should be underpinned by a deep understanding of what is currently working, and what isn’t – as Peter Drucker once said, only what gets measured, gets managed. It might be wise to try and view your numbers with a pair of eyes free from assumptions. Take stock of what’s working and what isn’t, and decide on what you want to fix, and how. Let the raw data show you the answer, and lay the foundation for your next steps.
The months following a recession can be amongst the most creative, innovative, and stimulating times for brands. As customers willingly embrace new brands and products – it’s vital that your brand is ready to hit the ground running, which is why getting yourself organised during a recession is essential. Conducting thorough research, and investing your time and finances wisely is a surefire way to ensure the success of your brand post-recession.
Why is marketing important during a recession?
During economic downturns, marketing teams are tasked with scaling back costs in the short term. But, brands that recognise the importance of continued investments in marketing can reap long-term benefits. By maintaining a visible presence, businesses can expand their share of voice and strategically win over new customers from competitors.
In a recession, marketing isn’t just wise – it’s essential for ensuring brand growth and survival – enabling businesses to navigate the challenging environment and emerge stronger when the economy recovers. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Maintaining visibility
During an economic downturn, businesses tend to face heightened competition and decreased consumer spending. However, by upholding their marketing efforts, companies can effectively keep their brand in the spotlight. This increased visibility is crucial for reinforcing brand awareness and recall – even if immediate sales may experience a temporary slowdown. Moreover, when the economy bounces back, businesses that have consistently maintained their marketing endeavours are poised to be at the forefront of consumers’ minds, providing them with a significant edge over their competitors.
2. Capturing market share
During recessions, market dynamics can undergo unexpected changes, presenting unique opportunities for businesses to expand their market share. While it’s understandable that some companies might consider reducing – or eliminating – their marketing investments, there’s a compelling case for maintaining or even increasing marketing efforts during these times.
By skilfully conveying their value proposition, precisely targeting the right audience, and flexibly adapting strategies to meet evolving consumer needs, companies can not only attract new customers but also experience significant growth in their market share. It’s an exciting chance to carve out a larger presence in the market and make meaningful connections with potential customers.
3. Building customer loyalty
During challenging economic times, consumers may be more selective about their purchases. By continuing to engage with existing customers and providing them with valuable offers, businesses can foster customer loyalty. By maintaining open lines of communication, demonstrating empathy, and offering incentives or solutions that address customer concerns, companies can build stronger relationships that extend beyond the recessionary period.
4. Innovation and adaptation
Recessions often force businesses to reassess their strategies, offerings, and operations. Marketing plays a crucial role in this process by providing valuable insights into customer behaviour, market trends, and competitive dynamics. By analysing data and feedback, marketers can identify opportunities for innovation, product/service enhancements, or diversification that can help businesses thrive during and after the recession.
5. Preparing for recovery
Economic downturns are temporary, and eventually, the economy will recover. By maintaining marketing campaigns during a recession, businesses position themselves for the eventual rebound. By not cutting back on marketing costs, they can generate leads, build brand equity, and maintain customer relationships, which can be leveraged when the market improves. Companies that invest in marketing – or even increase their advertising budgets – during a recession are better equipped to bounce back quickly when economic conditions improve.
While marketing during a recession requires careful allocation of resources and strategic decision-making, businesses that recognise the importance of maintaining a marketing presence and adapt their strategies accordingly can position themselves for long-term success.
Why do recessions impact marketing?
Recessions can have a significant impact on marketing for several reasons:
- In a recession, case studies and consumer spending show that people tend to spend less on discretionary items and prioritise essential, low-cost items. Consequently, companies may experience lower sales volumes and revenue, making marketing budget and advertising spend allocation challenging.
- A downturn in the economy often leads to businesses implementing cost-cutting measures and vast budget cuts. In an effort to streamline expenses and maintain profitability, marketing budgets are typically among the first to be reduced or reallocated. As a result, advertising campaigns, content marketing, market research, new product launches, and other marketing activities and initiatives will likely be reduced.
- A recession can reduce consumer confidence by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. Instability in the economy, job losses, and reduced income can all contribute to declining consumer confidence. In such circumstances, people tend to become more price sensitive and cautious with their spending, making it harder for marketers to persuade them to make purchasing decisions.
- In times of economic downturn, businesses across many industries face similar challenges and strive to maintain their market share. As a result of the intensified competition, pricing strategies, promotions, and discounts may become more aggressive. While this may benefit consumers, it can squeeze profit margins for companies and make it difficult for marketers to differentiate their offerings in a crowded marketplace.
- Recessions often trigger changes in consumer behaviours and priorities. In response, people may become more value-conscious, seeking affordable alternatives or delaying non-essential purchases. Their preferences may also shift towards long-term value items or essentials. In order to remain relevant and capture their target audience, marketers must adapt their marketing plans to these shifting consumer needs and preferences.
While recessions can present challenges for marketers, they can also provide opportunities. Agile, creative, and resourceful businesses can find ways to maximise marketing efforts, target new markets, and offer value propositions that resonate with consumers during challenging economic times. Successfully navigating recessions requires flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and a focus on meeting changing customer needs.
Need another pair of eyes?
Whether you’re an established business or a global brand – we can help you create marketing and messaging that not only outshines your competition but is recession-resilient.
We’d love to help you secure the long-term success of your business before, during, and after a recession. Drop us a line.