Almost every news agency is talking about a recession. Typically, in a recession, corporate management teams look to cut costs. And in a recession, the first thing many companies do is cut their marketing budget. That’s a bean counter’s mistake.
Marketing is not an expense. It’s an investment that yields the indirect benefits of better brand awareness and stronger customer relationships, as well as increased sales. Marketing is an investment that benefits the company’s recruitment efforts through candidate interest and employee retention. Investments require careful planning and time to be successful. marketing too. Canceling an investment is a good way to lose money. And the same goes for marketing.
During a recession, you have an opportunity to differentiate yourself by simply maintaining or slightly improving your current brand presence. Is there a more important time than during a recession to be present and put first as your prospect’s first call? When they’re struggling or reassessing their spend — that’s a crucial time to communicate with your customers, help them see your value — and more importantly, deliver that value.
There are some customer retention, marketing and sales activities that should be done on a regular basis, but we overlook these when time is short and business is good. Now it’s time to focus.
Engage your sales team. Existing customers are unlikely to take full advantage of the range of products and services you have available: now is the time to offer them. Schedule outreach (retention) calls with your top customers to learn what their current concerns are and how you can better support them. Require the sales team to have a written plan for tracking trade show visits and stick to it.
Activate your marketing team. Increase how much you “talk” about existing customers. Customer success case studies help potential customers see companies as successful. Industry-specific, testimonials offer reassurance that businesses like yours are succeeding by using your product or service. Ratings and reviews are seen as potential customers evaluate your product or service—long before they contact your sales team.
Harness the power of sales and marketing working together. Ask your sales team to review the current documentation and determine what is working well and what is under-emphasized. Prompt your marketing team to use these insights and repurpose or update what’s available. Coordinate them with the new material for a specific campaign.
When you stretch your marketing budget, you don’t have to skimp on the brand.
• Trade Shows
– Send a smaller staff to the show; Even one person less can significantly change the travel-related costs.
– Change the booth size of your trade show exhibition; When an exhibit is well designed, the difference between a 10x30ft and a 10x20ft stand is imperceptible to visitors, but can significantly reduce your space, carpeting and exhibit materials costs.
– Order new “skins” for your trade show frame exhibition instead of redesigning the entire stand.
– Encourage your staff to look for relevant, one-day shows within driving distance where your budget can stretch for more coverage (sponsorship, booth, etc.) rather than a few big shows where you don’t get noticed. Shorter distances also reduce travel costs.
• To sue
– Resize your print ads from one page to half a page.
– Get strategic help by asking your media representatives to help you maximize your budget, or inquiring about what opportunities they think other companies aren’t using that you could.
• To press
– Reduce paper weight on strategically chosen materials or see if you can reduce the number of pages on printed matter. The difference in cost between an 8-page brochure and a 12-page brochure is significant. Properly created, no information should be lost on 8 pages.
– Instead of printing A la carte Build a relationship with a printer – at the cheapest printer per printing need. Meet with your printer representative and outline your expected printing needs for the year. Ask for the best price for your expenses. (Trust me, this printer would rather help you cut costs than lose a customer.)
– Check your image library to see if you can refresh current articles with new images or showcase an unsung aspect of your product/service.
– Re-cut video footage instead of filming new footage; This could be an opportunity to take longer, old pieces and create shorter pieces for social media.
Recessions are actually opportunities. Other companies will limit their branding activities and ad serving. They will focus on efforts that they believe will move the winning needle (aka sales efforts), which will result in a shrinking marketing budget – which will result in a shrinking brand profile. The end result of a reduced brand profile is fewer inbound inquiries and more effort for sales teams looking for leads.
Now it’s time to think about how you can support customers more directly and what changes your messages might require. Now it’s time to walk through the user experience (UX) of your sales process and look for delivery points. Now it’s time to plan how to reuse what you have. Now it’s time to listen to your customers what they need next.
Making plans now about what and how you might change your marketing will save you the frustration of making hasty decisions later — and could reward you with more business.
Alexandria Trusov is Director of Marketing at Euthenia Manufacturing Group and a B2B marketing consultant for manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact them at email@example.com or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.