Brand Insights

Marketing in a Recession for B2B businesses

Overview

It’s often the case that the first casualty of a recession in most businesses is the marketing department. Business leaders look at their expenditure and see it as a relatively harmless place to make cuts. This article explores why engaging your customers through strong digital marketing strategies is more important than ever during a recession, as it can reach a new audience and secure new opportunities.

Scope

Exploring the three key elements to commercial success through digital marketing. Helping you to prioritise actions and funnel activity to get the best results from your marketing strategy, engage a wider customer base, and increase your market share.

 

B2B companies represent around 70% of the economy, and with a recession looming, these companies are likely to see a hit in revenue over the coming 6-12 months.

A recession, a period of sustained economic decline, always affects marketing early on. When the economy begins to look uncertain, and cash flow tightens, many businesses take steps to reduce their marketing spend. It always seems to be one of the first functions to go when times are tight. But reducing marketing and communication spend during a time of recession is a strategic mistake that will lead to a long-term loss of market share that may never be recoverable.

If anything, a time of recession is the time to work harder at engaging your customers and finding out their pain points, which are likely to increase or intensify as the economic challenges hit them too. As your competitors take a step back from their marketing efforts, you have the opportunity to increase your market share and consumer visibility.

There are three areas that will determine commercial success during a recession, and it’s these three things your marketing efforts must focus on:

Credibility

As your competitors retract their focus to their core business, there is a high chance that they will reduce their capacity for thought leadership projects. They’ll do less to prove that they are the solution of choice, opening the door for you to move into that space.

Spend the time collecting factual, quantitative information about the marketplace, and use them to tell a story to your audience. Identify the trends, pick out the highlights and create whitepapers and infographics that help your customers understand how your content will help them reach their desired future.

 

Reliability

While others retreat from the space, now is the moment to employ consistency. Work on disseminating quality content via a blog or insights page on your website and build a backlinks strategy to get that content linked from other websites with a high domain authority.

Take the individual insights or results from each piece of content and create LinkedIn posts and Twitter threads for them. Give this information away as freely and easily as possible in order to increase your brand’s notoriety across your audience. It isn’t always necessary to funnel people back to your website – the aim to have your potential customers see you as a reliable source of useful information.

Once you have manoeuvred yourself into that position, you can start to develop a newsletter, and ask your potential customers to subscribe. This way you can begin to control the messaging, the frequency and the timing.

 

Intimacy

Giving your customers a service that is over and above the status quo, often known as ‘surprise and delight’, has become harder in a digital culture and data driven age, when people expect hyper personalisation, next day delivery, instant customer service via multiple channels and a seamless journey.

But there are even more authentic ways of developing intimacy and building a relationship with your customers. Hosting webinars is a great way of initiating a direct relationship that has the ability to grow into a two-way conversation. Not only can you engage directly with your audience during the webinar, but you can also follow up with personalised emails asking for their feedback and thoughts on further topics.

 

3 things to keep in mind about your marketing during a downturn

  1. Marketing pays for itself.

    A good marketer can track their ROI and show the positive financial impact they have on the company. Whether it's in leads generated or products sold, it's your marketer who is tracking where customers are coming from and pulling on the levers to keep them coming.

  2. Your marketing strategy is long term.

    That means the marketing being done today isn't just affecting your sales right now, it's affecting your sales in 12 months’ time. Stopping your marketing now will cause longer term damage to your brand and reputation than you think.

  3. Marketing doesn't *stop* when you get rid of your marketing support.

    It just becomes less efficient. You still need to reach your audience and sell your product/service. But instead of having an expert handle it for you, it becomes the job of your sales people, your directors, your office staff. People who don't necessarily have the tools or experience to do it efficiently or effectively, taking them away from the things they are good at, and ultimately costing you more.

Here's what you should do instead:

  • Make sure you have an expert in the room - someone who can understand data, set strategy, and pivot quickly.

  • Funnel energy into the activities that directly affect the bottom line (if email marketing brings revenue, now's not the time to test new things instead).

  • Streamline your digital journeys to make it easier for people to get to the point of sale with you, quicker.

Remember: credibility, reliability, intimacy. Build your online presence around these three things while your competitors are retreating, and you’ll grow your audience and capture new opportunities.