Published 13th January 2023 | News

Marketing in a recession: Shout louder! Our top 10 tips based on experience

Key takeaways

  • Focus on revisiting your strategy.
  • Protect your brand equity and you will be better positioned to emerge stronger.
  • Invest in marketing and advertising to keep your brand top-of-mind and maintain loyalty.
  • Don’t make the mistake of cutting your marketing budget, it could do more harm than good.

As the UK braces for a recession, this can be a tough time for any business. But it is especially difficult for marketing departments. With businesses cutting costs, it can be hard to justify marketing expenditures.

However at C4B Media, we’ve survived the dotcom crash, the credit crunch, austerity and the pandemic, so we have learned a thing or two about marketing – and surviving – during downturns.

1. Don’t panic

Just because you’re operating in a recession doesn’t mean you have to abandon your marketing efforts.

You may just need to adapt your marketing strategy to keep your brand front of mind, to remind customers and prospective customers you’re here for future purchases when the economy recovers and they are ready to buy.

2. Talk budgets

It’s no secret that marketing budgets are often cut in a recession, but a downturn is a time to refocus or reprioritise your budget, not cut it. Spending money on marketing through a recession may feel counterintuitive, but studies have shown brands that continued to spend benefit from greater growth when markets started to bounce back.  

Always be prepared to make a case for why your marketing efforts are essential—even in a downturn!

3. Raise your voice

In tough economic times, customers are more careful with their spending. They’re less likely to take risks on new products or brands, and more likely to stick with the tried-and-true brands they know and trust.

Research has shown there is a great opportunity to preserve brand equity by increasing your extra share of voice (eSOV) which, in turn, drives increased market share (Fig 1).

If other brands in your industry are cutting back, and your business is maintaining marketing spend, enjoy the boost your eSOV gets and the resulting growth!

Extra share of voice drives market share. (Fig 1)

Source: Les Binet and Peter Field, THE 5 PRINCIPLES Of Growth In B2B Marketing, The B2B Institute.

4. Don’t be short-sighted

Don’t fall into the trap of focusing solely on short-term sales. Instead, try to balance the short-term effectiveness of sales with the long-term effectiveness of brand building (Fig 2.)

Don’t be tempted to offer heavy discounts or reduce prices temporarily. Quite simply it lessens the perceived value of your offering. Short-term KPI’s may benefit from discounts, but it will impact long-term KPI’s including brand health and may impact customer perception and loyalty. Think of other ways to add value through bundling products and services or using a reward scheme.

Brand building and sales activation work over different timescales. (Fig 2)

Source: Les Binet and Peter Field, Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, IPA,

5. Focus on keeping your current customers

Another proven option is to look after current customers and prioritise your marketing focus on retention and loyalty programs. If you can keep your existing customers happy and engaged, you’re more likely to weather the storm than if you’re constantly trying to attract new customers. Review your customer’s attitudes and respond accordingly.

Marketers know that keeping an existing customer is far easier than attracting and winning new ones. So consider putting your growth plans on hold and instead focus on delighting your existing customers. Use marketing to remind them what you do for them, why your product or service is the best and what value they are getting.

6. Be consistent

Don’t let your brand values slip by neglecting brand consistency.

Adapt your tone of voice to empathise with new market dynamics, but continue to deliver the same quality of message and maintain your presence in the market.

7. Sharpen your messaging

It’s more important than ever to demonstrate that your product solves a problem or meets a specific need. Recessions are not really the time for ‘nice to haves’, so revisit your messaging to refine, or, if necessary, redefine your unique selling points.

Be clear and certain about the value you deliver and communicate it more clearly and more loudly than ever.

8. Give your customers confidence

Demonstrate to your customers that your business cares about them, that you are with them on this ‘survival journey’ and that you are continuing to focus on delivering a quality service for them.

By showing them that you are successful and thriving will make them feel secure in doing business with you.

9. Keep your eye on your competitors

Inevitably, some of your competitors will go to the wall during a recession, potentially resulting in  reduced competition and more customers in the market for you.

Be prepared to fill the gaps that these competitors leave behind by targeting your marketing at their customers.

10. Bring in some outside help

Sometimes, doing business in a recession forces you into survival mode, the shutters come down and the blinkers go on.

If you’re trying to keep your head above water, you’re focused on one thing: survival.

This is where outsourcing some or all of your marketing to subject matter experts can really pay.

You’ll free up time and resource to redeploy to other key focus areas, whilst ensuring that your marketing budget is going to be made to work for you in the smartest and most intelligent way possible.

By partnering up with an agency like C4B Media, you’ll gain access to a broad set of skills including social media management, content creation, email marketing and creative design.

And as a bonus, we can help you navigate the turbulent times of the recession and help you develop a strategy and roadmap to emerge fitter and stronger

Conclusion

A recession can be a tough time for businesses, but those that focus on revisiting strategy, and protecting their brand equity will be better positioned to emerge stronger. By continuing to invest in marketing and advertising, companies can keep their brands top-of-mind for consumers and maintain loyalty even when times are tough. So, don’t make the mistake of cutting your marketing budget during a recession – it could do more harm than good.

C4B Media are experts in brand building and marketing strategy services in Cambridgeshire. Running an effective marketing strategy workshop takes preparation, organisation, moderation skills and plenty of patience! But if you prefer not to attempt it yourself, you might want to bring in strategy professionals such as C4B Media to run it for you. Drop us a line at hello@c4bmedia.com.

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