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B2B marketing in a recession – surviving or thriving?

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In an economic downturn marketing budgets are normally the first to be scrutinised. With recent stories announcing big layoffs in the tech space making the headlines, it’s no wonder some are experiencing feelings of uncertainty.

The health of the economy is out of our control. But we can control how we respond when we experience a downward turn.

There are two typical responses we see to marketing when economic uncertainty takes hold:

Surviving mode: Cut marketing budgets, batten down the hatches and ride out the storm

Thriving mode: Stay strategic, recognise and leverage the opportunity the recession presents, and come out the other side thriving

Survival mode can feel like the safest option because it provides that instant relief of cutting spending in line with any revenue declines you may have forecast. But in the long run, it puts your organisation at risk. Your brand is at a disadvantage compared to those who keep their foot on the pedal with their marketing.

Here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t stop marketing in a recession:

1) Win more market share

If your competitors react to the recession by pressing pause on their marketing, which many undoubtedly will, it offers a huge opportunity for you to capitalise on their lack of investment and gain more market share. And you don’t necessarily need to do more than what you’re already doing to outrival your competitors. Gaining advantage over those reigning in their marketing activity could be as simple as just keep doing what you’re already doing – they’re effectively handing over their share of the market to you!

2) Buyers are still spending (they’re just more risk-averse)

When budgets are being scrutinised, the pressure to invest budget wisely can be felt. When marketing in a recession having a strong brand becomes even more important. Choosing to buy from a brand that is recognisable and perceived as a thought-leader feels like a safer bet. It’s the difference between your ideal customer seeing your brand and thinking “Ooooh!”, rather than a “Who?!”

Creating content that speaks to how your product or service can help customers make money, save money or compete more effectively in a tough climate, will help make a rock-solid case for change and investment.

Brand visibility

Brands that maintained their marketing output enjoyed 3.5 times more brand visibility than those who cut on spending

3) Quicker recovery post-recession

Want to minimise the impact the recession has on business growth? You need to be putting in the work now so you’re ready when the economy picks back up again. Remember, it takes time for your marketing efforts to convert into customers, there can often be several months between a buyer seeing a brand for the first time and becoming a paying customer. Those who take their foot off the pedal with marketing will be faced with a sparse pipeline at a time when buyer confidence will be starting to rise.

If long term sustainable growth is your goal, your focus right now should be on generating demand to build a healthy pipeline that is ready to convert when the economic confidence kickstarts. Maintaining an ‘always on’ approach to marketing, in particular demand generation activity, is vital for those who want to recover fast post-recession and achieve ongoing commercial success.

4) Existing customers are under pressure to justify spend

During a downturn it’s a natural reaction to focus all attention on attracting more prospects and closing more new customer deals. But don’t lose sight of what’s right in front of you – your loyal (and warm!) customers.

It’s important you don’t rest on your laurels when it comes to your customers, especially at a time when budgets are tight and suppliers are being reviewed. Make exceptional customer service a non-negotiable. Your customers will be under pressure to justify every spend, so get ahead of this by making sure the value you deliver is crystal clear.

Remember, they’re also searching for ways to weather the financial storm. If you can help them to do that, they’ll want to continue working with you.

5) Opportunity to build brand value while there’s less ‘noise’

If we’ve learned anything from previous recessions, it should be that keeping your focus on demand generation activity is the best way to keep your brand front of mind. Savvy marketers who have experienced past recessions and came out thriving, know not to get distracted by short term pressures. Instead they make the most of the opportunity to boost brand value at a time when their competitors are making less noise. With less brands competing for attention, it becomes easier for yours to be seen and to shine.

History has time and time again shown that recessions can offer incredible business growth opportunities for brands that sustain their marketing activities and budgets. When we look back at the 2008 recession, statistics showed that brands that maintained their marketing output enjoyed 3.5 times more brand visibility than those who cut on spending, and enjoyed quicker recovery rates post-recession.

Want help making your brand unmissable so your business can come out of the recession thriving? Get in touch to arrange a chat with one of our marketing experts.

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