A few years ago, we published the blog The Importance of Marketing in a Downturn Economy, a title very similar to this one. The Oil and Gas industry had just crashed, businesses were struggling, and Alberta was in a full-blown economic crisis. Most large-scale companies in the industry attempted to survive by laying off thousands of employees, and many small businesses folded completely, regardless of industry. Times were hard, and while we may not be in as large of a crisis right now, the current state of the economy has some entrepreneurs and business owners thinking about keeping costs down.
Despite learning from the ongoing ebbs and flows of the economy, businesses always seem to fall into a pattern of cutting their marketing budgets when times get tough. While cutting excess spending to keep afloat is crucial during tough times, research (and experience) has shown us that cutting all marketing initiatives will do more harm than good in the long run. Business owners often feel marketing is the easiest expense to let go of because it doesn’t demonstrate immediate return on investment (meaning they feel the business can survive without it for a while), and it doesn’t seem as important as other factors such as employee retention and business development. What they fail to realize, though, is that ensuring that marketing stays as an integral part of the operation will pay off in the long-term, helping to save jobs, fortify your brand’s presence, and ultimately bring in new work.
In tough times, marketing is often viewed as an expense when it should be considered an investment. Maintaining a strong brand and communication with audiences sets a business up to appear strong in the public eye. During times of hardship, taking a step back to re-evaluate if your marketing efforts and brand are still aligned with your organizational goals and values will help you visualize the future rather than put out immediate fires.
Ensuring you have the right budget to continue marketing in a downtown can also help your business do a few other things in times of uncertainty:
Strengthen Your Brand
While it may seem like a challenging time to strengthen your brand as there is less work and, in turn, less money flowing in, think of this time as an opportunity. It is a chance to reassess your “why.” Remember what brought you into this business in the first place. Your business provides some sort of value and solution (otherwise, it’s not the economic downturn that’s causing you trouble), so take advantage of the time you have and go back to the drawing board. Work with your staff on marketing efforts to communicate to your audiences the value of your brand – showcasing who you are and what you believe in in a consistent and sensitive way.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Cutting marketing in times of hardship is a common practice. Many businesses see it as the only way to avoid complete annihilation (however untrue that may be). While everyone else plays it safe, this is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd when others are no where to be found. No matter what the situation may be, continuing to invest in marketing will appear as a sign of continued strength in the public eye. So, while your competitors are hiding, you’re staying top of mind with potential customers.
We often say that people do business with people. With so much choice and information out there, consumers, whether B2B or B2C, are looking to do business with brands they can trust. Continuing to support marketing efforts while your business lays off valued employees and loses business may seem like poor optics, but in fact, it’s the opposite. Being honest with your audiences (both internal and external) and showing that you are still thriving despite setbacks shows strength, and during times of crisis people are looking for signs of strength.
Your business will take a hit in an economic downturn – that is inevitable. The key is to not succumb to fear and go into panic mode. Understanding the benefits marketing is bringing to your business will allow you to reassess its importance. Marketing is integral to survival, but it is likely you will need to reassess your spending to become even smarter about your marketing efforts, enabling you to adjust as needed. However, identifying where to allocate marketing costs effectively is not easy. Luckily, we’re experts. We’re here to help you in your time of need and find the best way to bet your brand out into the open without losing it all.
Need a hand? Give us a call.