Why marketing matters during a recession

By Sam Martin-Ross, Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, Digital Uncut

The business world has shown immense resilience in recent years, but as we kick off the new year it seems a recession is looming on the horizon. While Bloomberg reports that 60% of economists predict a Euro-zone recession, a recent survey from Nationwide suggests 70% of business owners expect a recession within the next six months, confirming that companies are set to face another challenging year.

The natural instinct for many business owners is to reign in as much spending as possible in preparation for weathering an economic storm, and marketing budgets are often one of the first areas to feel the pinch. However, a recession means it is often more vital than ever to keep up clear lines of communication with your audience in order to engage and convert customers.

Instead of axing marketing altogether, what is required is a highly strategic, focused approach to your marketing efforts. This can not only help to strengthen brand identity during an economic downturn, but also ensure your business continues to thrive.

Consistency is key

Pulling the plug on your marketing communications and going radio silent at the first sign of a recession is an ill-advised strategy. Though it may help to save on marketing budget in the short-term, from a long-term perspective the damage outweighs any potential savings.

Not only does suddenly pulling your marketing communications project an image of panic, but building trust and consideration with your target customers requires consistent messaging. Going silent creates a void that your competition will be only too happy to step in and fill, while hard-won clients and customers are more likely to go elsewhere.

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Successful marketing should be focused on positioning your brand and company as an industry leader, and strong, consistent marketing efforts help to establish a sense of longevity and stability around your business and build confidence and trust in your audience.

Delving into data

While pulling marketing spend is undesirable, in times of recession it is more important than ever to ensure that your budget is being put to the best possible use it can be.

It is prudent to pay attention to your analytics and key performance indicators to measure the efficacy of each of your campaigns. Throwing money at campaigns that simply are not working is never a wise idea, but during a downturn can be truly disastrous for business, so it is important to use the information you have at your disposal to ensure you are setting realistic targets, and trimming back on campaigns that are not delivering results.

A good place to start when it comes to data is getting to grips with the cost per qualified lead or new customer to establish the effectiveness of your campaigns. Understanding where your customers are coming from and meeting them where they are is critical for prioritising additional sales and marketing efforts, as there is little point in pouring limited resources into channels you are not seeing a return on. Tracking your marketing channels and taking note of the keywords and targeted options that are working can be invaluable for strategically scaling your marketing operations during a recession, while getting the most out of your budget.

Messaging matters

Given the economic climate, people are understandably cautious about their spending, and belts are being tightened wherever possible. From a marketing standpoint, it is important to take the time to analyse your current messaging and ensure it is in line with consumer expectations.

Focusing on highly targeted campaigns with messaging that centres on value will allow you to build a connection with your audience, while also positioning your campaign as both relevant and timely. Paying attention to how consumer spending is changing within your target demographic is key to tailoring your campaigns, while ensuring you are continuing to cater to your audience appropriately.

Though times of recession pose challenges, they also offer a chance to increase brand loyalty with your existing customer and client base. Customer loyalty is especially important during an economic downturn, and evaluating your existing loyalty schemes and programs will not only earn you kudos with your best customers, but also help to boost trust and engagement.

Final thoughts

While it looks like 2023 is shaping up to be another challenging year for businesses and consumers alike, there are also plenty of opportunities to be had. Using data to your advantage and taking a considered, strategic approach to your marketing communications is vital to weathering an economic storm, projecting an image of stability, and building both trust and loyalty towards your brand.

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