As we draw to the latter stages of 2022, there are increasing concerns that we may be heading into a recession. Thanks to the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and rising energy costs, you may be feeling worried about what the future may bring. What’s more, many businesses are under increasing pressure to balance their books.
Are you tempted to reduce your marketing spend to free up your budge? After all, marketing is notoriously tricky to place a direct return on your investment. As a marketing agency in Ipswich, we understand why you may look to marketing as a place to make financial savings. But reducing your marketing spend could be detrimental to the long-term success of your business.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t cut your marketing budget in a recession.
Marketing can help you to win new leads
Your marketing budget is designed to help you win new needs. It can help you to turn prospective customers into paying clients. It can also raise your profile above your competitors.
During a recession, you may need to focus on acquiring new leads more than ever. This is especially true if you cannot depend on your existing customer base. Therefore, you should look to maintain, or even enhance, your marketing spends. This is your best way to ensure that you are continuing to attract new customers.
Why not reshape your perception of marketing? Instead of viewing it as an expenditure that it can be cut, it should be seen as a way of investing in your company.
You might need to make some changes to your marketing strategies and your communication messages. But ultimately, you still need your marketing to let your customers know that you are still very much open for business.
Marketing is about looking towards the future
Marketing plays a crucial role in future proofing your business.
The work that you are doing at the moment, could pay off in six months’ time.
Therefore, if you cut off the taps to your marketing budget right now, you might make an immediate short-term financial saving. But what will be the consequence of that in the future? If you suddenly stop the work that you are doing, have you inadvertently given the impression that you’ve closed for business?
Let’s take blogging or email marketing as an example.
If you’re working with a marketing agency or a freelance copywriter to update your website and send emails to your core audience, they’ll become used to receiving your updates. A failure to keep on top of this could signal that your business has closed. Your customers could decide to move elsewhere. Then, when you decide to resume your marketing efforts, you’ll have to work twice as hard (and spend twice as much) to win your previous customers back.
Communication is always essential
If we’ve learned anything from the last two years, it’s that consistent, clear communications are essential for businesses.
Your marketing budget is responsible for how you communicate to your customers, your suppliers, and your stakeholders.
A clear communication strategy allows you to let your customers know if they are likely to experience any delays or whether there are any outside issues that are impacting your services. You can talk to your customers about concerns that they may have. You can show how you are supporting local community and charitable initiatives.
With a clear communication strategy, you can move away from a sales-based patter to a two-way dialogue. This allows you to build long-lasting and trusting relationships with your audiences.
This can effectively build strong brand loyalty. With that in place, you can feel confident that your customers will continue to support you and advocate for you and your business.
Another key consideration is that if you reduce your marketing output, but your competitors don’t, you could be losing valuable market share and hindering your own success. The opposite is also true; if your competitors are uncharacteristically quiet, this is your chance to have your messages amplified.
Marketing gives you a chance to adapt and respond to changing habits
“Marketing in a recession will never be easy, largely because it often involves going against instincts and standard operating norms…This is a time not to stop spending money but a time to change how you spend it. It is also an opportunity because firms who are willing to be what customers need in a recession get to keep many of the new customers they get — and cement the loyalty of those they already had.”
We love this perspective from Nirmalya Kumar and Koen Pauwels from the Harvard Business Review (published August 2020).
It is undeniably true.
Recessions change the way consumers act and think. It can reshape how a business sees its long-term future and how you see your business strategies unveiled.
Retaining and investing in your marketing budget means that you have the agility and flexibility to respond to these changes. You’ll have a better opportunity to start new conversations and act as a market leader rather than simply following trends. You can continue to build and cement lasting relationships with clients and customers, ensuring that you have solid brand loyalty and an audience base that will be with you throughout your journey.
Maintaining consistent marketing can future-proof your business
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
But do you know what else is certain?
Recessions will never be everlasting.
Forbes business magazine suggests that modern recessions typically last just ten months and the Bank of England predicts that inflation will slow down in the middle of 2023.
We predict that while the next year may definitely be challenging, it’s essential to look long-term at your marketing and business strategies. Your short-term priorities may change, but you can easily adapt your communications strategy and marketing activities to respond accordingly. In the long term, businesses that can adjust and react to changing customer behaviours will always find it easier to succeed.
We think that in 2023, many business priorities will be about maintenance rather than growth. But within that lies new opportunities. You can really look in detail at your business to see what is working, what areas need improvement, and how you can evolve your business to match future customer expectations.
And once you’ve looked at your business and answered these questions, you’ll need to return to your digital marketing agency to communicate your strategy with your stakeholders!
Gatekeeper Communications can support your 2023 marketing plans
We believe that marketing should always be affordable to businesses. One reason why firms choose to work with freelance marketing consultants like us is because it’s a more affordable way of benefiting from expert marketing support.
We can work with you to review your current marketing. Our communication healthchecks can look at what you are currently doing and make recommendations for improvements and adjustments. From here, we can implement effective content marketing strategies, blogging plans and external PR support to shout loud and proud about who you are and what you do.
To find out how we can support your business with your marketing needs, please get in touch.