Hot topic: Maximise your marketing in an economic downturn

Fighting the gut instinct to save your business money wherever you can during a downturn is very difficult, especially when it comes to ‘non-essential’ aspects of your business.

Any hint of a recession people quickly re-evaluate their budget and their first action is to cut marketing. But this is the last thing you should do! According to research conducted during an economic downturn it is essential to maintain your marketing strategy and even increase your budget (if possible). 

Geoffrey Campbell from The Why Marketing explains.

Maintaining a strong market visibility is vitally important when the market deteriorates. By demonstrating strength, leadership and big-picture thinking you will send a clear message to your customers that you are still available and operational during this difficult period. Regardless of what may be happening behind the scenes in your organisation (we understand that it can be grim at times), customers and prospects will be attracted to the image of your business’s stability because you are maintaining a consistent online and offline presence.

Also keep in mind that your competitors will be cutting their marketing budget as a knee jerk reaction so this actually clears the field and your message will cut through the noise. Two key results are people are reassured that you’re still operational and you will be front of mind when the market improves.

Studies have shown that marketing effectively throughout challenging times encourages “market share”. An example of this is Dry Cereal: In the 1920s, Post was the category leader in the ready-to-eat cereal category. During the Great Depression, Post cut back significantly its advertising budget and rival Kellogg’s doubled its advertising spend, investing heavily in radio and introducing a new cereal called Rice Krispies, featuring ‘Snap’, ‘Crackle’ and ‘Pop’. Kellogg’s profits grew by 30% and the company became the category leader, a position it has maintained for decades.

Just be savvy about what marketing you will invest in and swap out expensive options for cheaper alternatives:

  • Social media posts and email newsletters will only cost you time.
  • Promotional products are a low initial investment for extensive brand travel and they are a great long term brand visibility option.
  • Seriously consider branding your vehicles. It is a cheap and vastly underutilised option that provides exposure for the duration of your current logo or vehicles. How many businesses do you think about because you’ve seen their branded car? We bet it’s more than you realise.

Marketing strategies typically generate results within six to twelve months so stopping your current strategy (even for a month) will be detrimental. Your marketing campaign would lose momentum instantly and renewing it will incur further costs with a longer wait for results.

Does this surprise you? Marketing is like building a relationship over time because it needs to be conducted gradually in order to build a trusting relationship.   

In fact, marketing is a long game and shrewd businesses understand that you need to keep the momentum going at all times. So keep your marketing campaigns running as best you can to stay afloat and you may obtain a lion’s share of new clients from when your competitors went quiet in the desert plains.


Head shot of Geoffrey from Why Marketing

But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what Kevin Kerr, Director, Tabak Business Sales has to say.

“Businesses all over the world are currently facing unprecedented challenges. There is nothing new in this and over my 20 years with Tabak Business Sales I have experienced three to four of these challenging periods.

“I’ve always adopted the attitude that business success is based on the long game and to achieve this you need consistency with how you interact with your targeted audience. Axing or reducing your marketing budget every time a hiccup occurs isn’t always the wisest spending decision. The simple fact of life is that nothing is permanent and eventually there is always an end to a period of uncertainty and your customers will hopefully still be there. But will they be there if you haven’t interacted with them?

“During the pandemic, I have found that people have had extra time on their hands and they have been able to consume more marketing content than ever before. These people will potentially become my next customer and they will remember how my company interacted with them during the time of uncertainty.

“Marketing for me is one of those essential business actions that you must (if possible) carry on with during the tough times. “

If you would like coaching around how to market your business, or you want to entrust your marketing strategies to professionals then contact The Why Marketing. We work with you to create a personalised marketing programme tailored specifically to your requirements and budget.