Why Market More During an Economic Uncertainty?

Let’s face it. During an economic downturn, the first instinct is often to cut back on your marketing spend. It perhaps makes sense as a reactive measure but numerous studies show us that it’s detrimental in the long run. Great brands are tested during difficult times: how you position yourself and communicate with an evolving market matters!

In this blog post, we’ll explore how your B2B business can use strategic marketing and brand communication to strengthen your market standing.

What do the studies say?

PIMS ROCA Study

A study analysing the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies (PIMS) database found that companies that maintained or increased marketing spend during a recession saw better results in the long run.  While companies that cut marketing might have had slightly higher profits during the downturn itself (measured by Return on Capital Employed or ROCA), they struggled in the recovery period.
The companies that kept marketing spending strong achieved significantly higher ROCA and gained an additional 1.3% market share during the recovery compared to those who cut back.  

Kantar’s Brand Z Report

The value of the top 100 brands rose by 5.9% in 2020, shows Kantar’s Brand Z report, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These 100 brands – including Amazon, Apple, Alibaba and Microsoft – all outperformed the market in those times, including the S&P 500 and MSCI World Index.

Bain & Co Study

A 2019 study by Bain & Company analysed nearly 3,900 companies worldwide during the 2008 recession. It found that companies maintaining their marketing spend achieved a 17% compound annual growth rate during the downturn, compared to 0% among those that cut back.  

Don’t cut back: Invest strategically instead

You already know how challenging the B2B sales cycle is. During stable times, conversions come relatively easy. B2B buying committees have the financial leeway to experiment and invest in new software, making it easier to get management buy-ins. However, in tough economic times, these cycles become even more challenging. Budgets are tighter, there’s increased scrutiny on expenditures. And most importantly, decision makers are risk-averse and gravitate towards established brands.

This is precisely why continuing your marketing efforts is crucial. It will help your brand remain visible and trusted, positioning you well for when the market rebounds.

Moreover, if you choose to play defensive and go into survival mode, you risk a prolonged absence from the market, which can be a costly affair. Instead of taking the cost-cutting route, a more strategic reallocation of budgets will serve you well in the long run.

What does that look like?

1. Data-Driven Decision Making: Strategic marketing starts with data. Analyse customer behaviour, evolving sentiments, market trends, and performance metrics to make informed decisions. Leverage historical data to invest in your best-performing channels and campaigns.

2. Go beyond the hard sell: This is something often overlooked by many teams. We are looking at an economically challenging time where businesses are discerning with their spending. This calls for a revisit of your psychology and copywriting lessons.
During these times, your customers want value and reassurance. Understand these nuanced motivations and accordingly deliver real, tangible value. And this is also a great time for you to ditch the hard sell and step up as a thought leader that provides value for the community.

3. Retention marketing: It’s well-established that it’s more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. During uncertain times, tap into this goldmine.
Chat with them more often, polish up what makes you stand out, and share nuggets of wisdom and learnings you’ve learned. Not only are you improving your relationships but you are also building a solid, loyal customer base. 

How Strong Brands Adapt Their Communication

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time,” as Henry Ford famously said.

This perfectly captures the paradox of cutting marketing during economic downturns. Strong brands are forged during difficult times. When customer challenges intensify, it’s not the time to go silent. It’s the time to adapt your messaging and show how your brand can be a true support, and not just a logo they see.

1) Focus on Value Proposition and Cost-Saving Solutions:

Talk to your customers and understand how economic uncertainty is impacting their marketing efforts. Are they facing budget cuts? Struggling with reduced staff? Use these insights to craft a content strategy that precisely addresses these new paint points. For example, consider:

Blog ideas: 

  • Do More with Less: How Marketing Automation Can Boost ROI in Uncertain Times
  • Free Up Your Team’s Time: Automate Repetitive Marketing Tasks 
  • Data-Driven Marketing: Making Smarter Decisions with Limited Resources
  • Optimising Your Sales Pitch for Downturns: Focus on Value and ROI During Uncertainty

Case Study: Showcase how your clients used your solutions to achieve improve marketing efficiency during a downturn.  

2) Emphasise Reliability and Long-Term Partnerships:

Position your brand as a stable and dependable partner customers can rely on even during uncertain times. Communicate your long-term commitment to the industry and your customers’ success.

  • Offer extended customer support hours and dedicated account managers for your clients.
  • Provide extended warranties, flexible payment options, or other assurances.

3) Listen to your audience and act on that 

Monitor social media conversations and industry publications to understand the latest concerns. Be the first ones to address them meaningfully. 

Content Ideas:

  • Blog posts: Top 3 Financial Concerns B2B Businesses Face Today (and How We Can Help)
  • Infographics: Navigating Economic Uncertainty: A Guide for Business Leaders 
  • Videos: Host Q&A sessions with industry experts addressing common challenges and offering practical solutions.

4) Shift tone without losing brand identity:

Review your brand voice guidelines and recognise where you can incorporate a more supportive and understanding tone. If anything, this is the time to double down on your core values and principles.

Example: Maintain your brand’s professionalism but use language that acknowledges the current climate (e.g., “We understand budgets are tight…” or “We know your priorities are shifting…” ).

Content Ideas:

  • Update website copy to reflect the current economic climate.
  • Revise email marketing templates to be more sensible and value-driven. 
  • Ensure social media interactions are helpful and address customer concerns in a timely manner.

In Conclusion

Economic downturns may seem like a concerning time, but they also present a very unique opportunity: to connect with your audience on a deeper level, build trust, and emerge as a trusted partner for their success.

Need help with building a strategy?

Reach us: Savittr.com

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