Marketing is a crucial part of any business. It’s how you get your products and services in front of the people who need them. But when you’re operating on a budget, it can be difficult to invest in marketing tactics that drives results. And with a looming recession, marketing and PR budgets are usually the first to go.
The good news? There are plenty of cost-effective ways to market your brand and drive sales through every economic cycle. Here are six cost-effective marketing strategies that will help you recession-proof your brand:
Create engaging content regularly.
B2B buyers are 70% of their way through the buyer’s journey before they ever bother interacting with a salesperson. So what are they doing up until that point?
Exploring companies, products, and solutions that might meet their needs and evaluating them against one another to find their “frontrunners.”
To become a frontrunner, your content needs to be engaging, informative, and up-to-date. Otherwise, your product will get tossed aside for a more content-focused competitor.
You don’t have to go all-in on B2B content marketing, but if implemented correctly, it can help your brand remain relevant and build trust with customers during tough economic times. To do this, create engaging content regularly—once or twice per week—that will keep people coming back for more. Be sure to include:
- A mix of short and long-form content
- Visually appealing content—meaning, content broken up by subheaders, bullets, and images, so you don’t just have a wall of text.
- Links in each piece to direct them back to key pages of your website (for instance, if your piece mentions a particular product—link to that page. If you’re posting content somewhere other than your own website, such as through a PR placement or on social media, make sure each piece links back to your website.)
- A multi-media approach with written, video, and audio content
- A variety of high-engagement content—live demos, thought leadership, interviews, polls/surveys/quizzes, and more
During a recession, consumers look for value and want to know that they’re making an educated choice when purchasing from you or another company—even if that purchase doesn’t happen for a while. Help them make the right choice by providing interesting and informational content about your business.
Repurpose and amplify content.
Repurposing content simply means taking an existing work and using it in a different format or medium. You can turn that old blog post into a series of social media posts or use your Instagram photos for an ad campaign. This strategy works especially well if you want to reach new audiences who might not be familiar with all of your existing content.
To maximize its effectiveness, repurpose content from different sources (your site and others) and amplify it across multiple channels. For example: take Facebook ads; PPC campaigns; organic social media shares; emails sent out through an B2B email marketing platform—and then measure what drives traffic back to your website/landing pages/etc., so that you know which types of content resonate best with each audience segment (i.e., millennials vs. boomers). Use comments or feedback to lead your future content creation and marketing campaigns.
Repurposing and amplifying content is actually a core part of our strategy here at Zen. We call it S.A.M. You’ll find that amplifying your content increases its lifetime value, boosting sales and influencing your company’s bottom line.
Related Reading: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle Your Content
Invest time in relationship building.
When you’re in a recession, your sales cycles will get longer. Your customers will be more hesitant to make purchases and need more time to evaluate their options. This is actually a good thing because it gives you more time to build relationships with your customers—which is a key factor in helping them decide whether or not to buy from you.
Building relationships with customers takes on even greater importance during a recession as it helps them feel reassured in their decision, which is key when budgets are tight. People will be keenly aware of how much money they spend, so investing time and effort into building strong relationships with them will help ensure their loyalty during the downturn.
Forrester’s data shows that 76% of consumers will keep doing business with a brand they feel connected to.
Pro-tip: Don’t drop off after the sale is made. Continue to grow your relationship with your clients (past, present, and future), by expressing gratitude and showing your appreciation. See the “good deeds” section below.
Understand the power of dark social.
While this may not sound like a strategy, trust us, it is.
You can’t “leverage” dark social in the way you can other kinds of media, but understanding it and its value is crucial. Dark social isn’t visible to search engines, and it’s not measurable. Truth is, it’s pretty messy. (I mean, it’s called the messy middle for a reason.)
To better explain dark social, imagine that social media has split in two (psst: it has):
- Media (the stuff you’re used to): This is where people go to consume content—often stuff that’s created by strangers. You can use Google Analytics or other tracking tools to see what people do on these platforms, but they don’t tell the whole story.
- (Dark) Social (the stuff no one’s talking about): These are the slack channels you share with colleagues, the WhatsApp chats with your college buddies, Facebook messages to Grandma, private groups, and niche message boards—really, it’s any way that you communicate and engage with social media that isn’t trackable to the public. Dark social isn’t tracked by social media analytics tools like Google Analytics, which is where most sharing happens today.
Related Reading: Social and Media Are Splitting Up: Here’s What That Means for Marketers
While you can’t control or track dark social, you can impact the conversations happening on dark social. How? By putting your brand at the center of their conversations.
To do this, you need to cultivate brand awareness and an online presence. The more your audience sees your brand and hears about your brand, the more likely it will come up in conversations on dark social—this becomes even more true if your messaging is creative or focuses on what differentiates you from the crowd.
The more people see your brand on social media and in the press, the more likely they will be to engage in conversations about it on dark social, and the more likely they will share your content via dark social with their peers.
So if you aren’t seeing as much engagement on organic and paid social media as you’d like, but you’re still getting qualified leads, your prospects are probably discussing you on dark social. But there’s only one way to find out, and that leads us to our next question…
Related Reading: 5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Digital Marketing and PR During a Recession
Ask your consumers questions.
Often overlooked, the greatest asset to your marketing arsenal is understanding your customers’ experiences.
If you want to know how they found you: ask. It’s that simple.
When we ask our clients and customers how they hear about us, it helps us understand how they’re connecting with our brand—and what channels might be most effective for reaching them and prospects like them.
Use the same method when determining how to improve your offerings—just ask.
Do a good deeds audit.
During the pandemic, Ford’s “Built to Lend a Hand” campaign outlined initiatives including payment relief and credit support. Like Ford, Budweiser redeployed $5 million usually spent on sports and entertainment marketing to the American Red Cross. The company also periodically stops the production of beer to put its efforts toward producing clean, safe drinking water for disaster relief. And companies such as Apple have donated millions of dollars worth of technology for school systems rendered obsolete by budget cuts in some states.
How is your brand going beyond sales to help people?
Maybe your SaaS can help small businesses by giving them discounted rates or extended trials throughout times of economic hardship. Maybe your law firm can provide pro bono support for companies that have philanthropic goals. You’ll be helping them now, and when we enter a bull market again, they will be loyal to you. Your service will have already become part of their routine—so much so that they don’t want to go back. And on top of their loyalty, they’ll have good things to say about you to peers, friends, and on dark social.
So the next time you hear the word recession, don’t cringe—and don’t cut your marketing efforts. You got this! And if you need a helping hand, reach out.
As a full-service marketing and PR agency, we can start small—with a single service or two—and we will customize a plan that helps grow your brand, drives conversions, and ultimately influences ROI.