In the face of harsh economic times, it’s not unusual for the marketing budget to take the first hit as businesses look to cut back. However, the impact of subdued marketing could have the opposite effect and hurt your 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.
Evaluate Your Current Marketing Strategies
Whether you like it or not, the strategies that you are working to are not the same as they were when you were planning. The world has changed. Now you need to adapt.
Start by reassessing your current marketing strategies. The strategy is crucial to managing your budget moving forward. 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 monitor the channels that are profitable.
Whether you work in B2C or B2B, in a crisis behaviours change. This means past (successful) campaigns may no longer work, providing a challenge to reach your 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.
Focus on Long-term rather than Short-term Gains
When sales begin to fall, the obvious thing to do is to begin seeking a silver bullet that will provide immediate sales. Don’t get so caught up in chasing sales 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 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 consistency and reliability greater than its peers.
Invest in Digital Marketing…yes, including AI!
Without a doubt, one of the biggest winners from the recent pandemic has been digital platforms. With almost everyone online, now more than ever, 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 the potential to reach even more of your audience 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 that you 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. A new report revealed 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!
It’s a sad fact that you may have to consider redundancies but often this is a pressure that increases without the KPIS and sales goals being reduced in line with the external situation. This is another reason why you should keep your marketing budget secured. Outsourcing your work to a marketing freelancer that understands your world and who will work in alignment with your goals is a good way to achieve your KPIs with less internal staff. Using a freelancer such as EPR Marketing who has experience working in-house and therefore has walked in your shoes can help you to get the most out of the marketing budget as well as give you a fresh set of eyes that can spot opportunities.
When tough economic times strike, they require marketing directors and owners 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. As Henry Ford said “The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man that stops the clock to save time.” Re-evaluating your current marketing strategies, focusing on the long-term gains, investing more in digital marketing, adding value to your products, and maintaining a 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.
If you want to make the most of your budget and resources during this tough economic climate, contact me about how I can help.