During economic downturns, grasping the complexities of economic uncertainty is vital when discussing profit decline for numerous enterprises. Instinctively, one might reassess the market effectively and modify marketing budgets. Some experts advocate that organizations should emphasize cost-reduction measures and internal enhancements in such situations.
However, Millward Brown’s research amid the 2008 recession unveiled that brands with curtailed media investments encountered negative outcomes. Notably, diminished TV ad expenditure led to a 24% decrease in brand utilization and a 28% decline in brand perception.
In contrast, Statista emphasizes that 40% of businesses intend to uphold their marketing budgets this year, while 30% aim to curtail spending.
This insight highlights the significance of marketing efforts for B2B organizations to ensure long-term resilience amidst economic uncertainty. Maintaining a robust marketing presence and incorporating a comprehensive social media strategy is crucial even during challenging times. Achieving a balance between cost-saving initiatives and ongoing marketing endeavors is paramount for sustaining competitiveness as well as maintaining business growth.
Although control over marketing budgets may be limited, social media success remains feasible in volatile periods. Let’s explore the most effective tactics for optimizing B2B social media budgets, saving money, and devising successful marketing campaigns amid economic downturns.
EVALUATING BUYER PERSONAS DURING AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN-A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency with traditional marketing methods, especially when your business has been around for quite some time. This confidence, while reassuring, can sometimes lead to overlooking subtle shifts in customer preferences and behaviors.
In an ever-changing market landscape — especially during an economic downturn — staying vigilant and constantly reevaluating your understanding of your loyal customer base is essential. Regularly making customer inquiries, gathering and analyzing customer feedback, monitoring market trends, and staying informed about industry developments can help you maintain a more accurate and up-to-date perspective on your customers.
For example, consider a prominent B2B brand like IBM, which has been serving a wide range of industries for decades. IBM’s management might assume they know their clients’ needs and preferences inside out. However, if they fail to notice the growing demand for advanced AI solutions or the increasing importance of data analytics in their clients’ industries, they may miss out on valuable opportunities to update their product offerings and attract new customers.
By keeping a finger on the pulse of your industry leaders, customers, and the market, you can ensure that your business remains responsive to their needs, enabling you to adapt your products, services, and marketing strategies accordingly. This ongoing process of learning and growth fosters strong customer relationships and positions your business for continued success, even in uncertain economic times.
So, how do you capitalize on this more profound understanding of your customers and develop a marketing strategy that caters to existing clients and new prospects?
MAINTAIN A WELL-DEFINED MARKETING APPROACH FOR EXISTING CLIENTS AND PROSPECTIVE ONES
During uncertain economic times, consumers may be more cautious with their spending, so businesses must have a clear value proposition and communicate it effectively to their target audience.
Additionally, having a clear marketing strategy can help you provide certainty and consistency to your target audience, leading to brand loyalty, incremental sales, and growth.
- A marketing strategy provides a roadmap for your marketing efforts and ensures everyone on your team works towards the same goals.
- A marketing plan lets you decide where to allocate your resources and which tactics to use. This can help you maximize the impact of your marketing efforts and minimize waste.
- Strategic marketing can help you stand out from competitors by providing a unique value proposition that resonates with your target audience.
In uncertain times, leave room in your marketing budget for your marketing team to devise a creative social media strategy.
RETHINK CUSTOMER ATTITUDES DURING TOUGH TIMES & THE 3R MARKETING STRATEGY
In challenging economic times, it’s essential to understand your existing customers’ behavior and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. Putting yourself in their shoes is key to the customer experience and profoundly understanding their pain points. In “How To Market During A Downturn,” an in-depth study of thought leadership by Harvard Business School experts John Quelch and Katherine Jocz, there are four customer mindsets during an economic crisis.
- Slam-on-the-brakes: Customers who indefinitely cut spending and postpone decisions. For example, a B2B company that provides marketing services to other businesses may see its clients cut back on marketing spending during a downturn, decreasing business.
- Pained but patient: Customers who worry but remain optimistic about the future. For example, a B2B company that provides software solutions may see its clients delay purchasing decisions but remain interested in their products.
- Comfortably well-off: Customers who continue business as usual but are more selective about spending. For example, a B2B company that provides IT services may see its clients continue to purchase their services but may look for cost-saving measures.
- Live-for-today: Customers who only change their habits if they become unemployed, meaning they prioritize immediate needs over long-term planning. In B2B, this type of customer may be rare, but the other three types can still be present. For example, a B2B company that provides financial services may find that some clients are more conservative with their investments during a downturn, while others may continue to invest but seek more transparent and reliable advice, continue to invest in marketing but be more selective about the services they purchase.
B2B businesses must adapt to these customer mindsets to effectively market during a downturn. And the answer is the 3Rs: Rethink, resist, and refocus.
Rethink your marketing strategy: It’s crucial to revisit your strategy during a downturn and identify areas for improvement. Consider shifting your marketing budget towards cost-effective measures such as digital and social media marketing, public relations, and customer relationship management. Additionally, it’s essential to understand your B2B customers’ mindsets and tailor your messaging accordingly.
Resist the urge to cut back: While cutting costs may seem like the best course of action during a downturn, it’s important not to overdo it. B2B customers still want quality products and services, so cutting back too much could harm your reputation and drive customers away. Instead, focus on providing value and addressing your B2B customers’ pain points.
Refocus on customer needs: During a downturn, it’s critical to focus on B2B customer needs and adjust your marketing approach accordingly. Consider targeting less affected segments, such as budget-conscious B2B consumers, and tailor your messaging to their needs. Retaining existing B2B customers is also crucial, as they are more likely to be loyal during a downturn.
By following the 3Rs and adapting to B2B customer mindsets, businesses can navigate a downturn and come out stronger on the other side.
Don’t let a downturn deter your B2B marketing efforts. Instead, consider it an opportunity to refocus your strategy to build long-lasting relationships with your B2B customers, stand out from the competition, and direct your resources to the right social media channels.
DIRECT YOUR MARKETING RESOURCES TO THE OPTIMAL SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Choosing the ideal social media platforms to connect with prospective customers who closely align with your business goals is essential, particularly during tough economic times.
But what do you do when budgets dry up and the cloud of economic uncertainty moves in? How do you navigate limited budgets, a potential financial crisis, and economic instability that may impact your bottom line?
Research platform performance
Seek a digital transformation. Focus your marketing spend on the platforms that generate the most engagement and conversion. For example, if LinkedIn is the platform that generates the most leads and conversions, prioritize it over other advertising platforms.
Performance marketing is essential for understanding what drives revenue and what does not during industry trends. When researching digital marketing platform performance, marketers should evaluate different metrics such as:
- Cost per click (CPC)
- cost per acquisition (CPA)
- cost per impression (CPI)
- Return on advertising spend (ROAS)
Digital marketing teams can use this information to refine campaigns in near-real time.
Listen to your audience and respond appropriately
Audit the channels you focus on to ensure your voice and tone aren’t tone-deaf. Conversations and expectations are different during rough economic times. Make it a point to be more conversational and empathetic. Make your brand easy to approach.
Provide value and mind the self-promotion
To build better relationships with current and new customers, a blog post should provide top tips and tricks, tutorials, or useful infographics, rather than just marketing copy about how great your service is. Mind self-promotion by following the 80/20 rule. Focus 80% of your posts on helpful tips, commentary sharing insights, or questions and only 20% or less on promoting the product or service.
For instance, a company like Lending Tree can create a small-scale local charity email marketing campaign that invests in the communities they work in and has a long-lasting impact. This approach keeps the audience engaged and interested in the brand without overwhelming them with promotional content. By creating valuable and engaging content beyond simply promoting the product or service, businesses can build stronger relationships with their customers and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.
LEVERAGE CONTENT MARKETING
Content marketing strategy, especially email marketing, is also much more cost-effective than traditional marketing tactics. It is estimated that content marketing is 62% cheaper than traditional marketing campaigns and generates three times more leads with reduced marketing alone.
A Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) Insights study found that organizations with a content strategy achieve a 27% higher conversion rate than those without a content strategy.
You’ll need to be creating content to be competitive and focus on your digital marketing spend.
The Benefits of Value Marketing
Maximize your marketing budget. The research shows that the average person sees up to 10,000 marketing messages daily. To drive organic traffic, content should be tailored to the audience’s interests and provide valuable information. Not only does this cut through the noise, but it positions your brand as a thought leader.
When crafting content, focus on creating content and topics that directly address a wide variety of problems of your industry or target audience, not just the problems your product or service addresses.
Take the low-hanging fruit: Refresh old content
One low-cost marketing strategy? Try updating old blog posts with new details, fresh graphics, and some much-needed SEO optimization. Revamp that old long-form content from three years ago with new tips to survive an economic storm.
INVEST IN INFLUENCER MARKETING
There’s no one way to measure the success or ROI of influencer marketing. However, according to Statista, 60% of marketers say it has a higher return on media investment than traditional ad spend. You get higher engagement rates, warmer leads, and more direct sales than traditional ads.
That’s because influencer marketing it can help you reach a new demographic, establish credibility, establish trust, and create and increase brand awareness. Influencer marketing can also provide valuable feedback and insights to help businesses shape their messaging, co-create content, and target their audience.
A shrinking marketing budget doesn’t have to mean giving up on influencers. Instead of paying big bucks for huge names, some micro-influencers cost less money and are still incredibly powerful in driving traction and engagement.
EMBRACE FRESH PERSPECTIVES BRING ON NEW TALENT
During a recession, marketing strategy and research become more critical, and the ability to respond quickly to changes in demand is essential. By introducing new skills such as data analysis, digital marketing, and influencer marketing, marketing teams and business leaders can stay ahead of the competition.
Many businesses partner with agencies that can deliver more results for a less risky and lower investment amount. According to eCommerce Fastline, a website that helps promote brands on Shopify, businesses can save 10–30% by working with an agency.
To truly maximize your B2B marketing and social media efforts in these unpredictable times, you must be agile and dynamic like never before. Seriously, it’s time to step up your game.
You gotta know your target customers inside and out — their needs, preferences, and behavior — and then use that knowledge to conduct some killer market research. And don’t forget to leverage the latest technology and social media platforms to get the job done right.
But here’s the thing: even in uncertain times, you can still earn the trust and loyalty of consumers and increase your revenue if you stay laser-focused on delivering value and services that cater to their needs. It’s time to adapt and innovate like never before and take your B2B social media efforts to the next level. Are you ready?