Marketing during a pandemic? You did it! Your reward? Record inflation and the challenge of marketing in a down economy that feels as uncertain as ever.
If you’re a frustrated marketer or business owner — you’re not alone.
We’ve all felt the squeeze of the past few years. Understandably, companies are looking for ways to be more financially conservative right now as we wait for the economy to get back on track. Marketing, in many cases, is one of the first things on the budgetary chopping block.
But I’m here to tell you that pausing your marketing efforts is not the way to get your business through this tough time.
I recently received an email newsletter from fellow marketer (and CEO of RevBoss — a B2B sales prospecting service provider) Eric Boggs that inspired me to expand on this topic.
Eric shared his thoughts on the Tweet pictured below:
Image Source: RevBoss
He outlined RevBoss’s plans to stay the course with their marketing efforts while taking smart steps in the meantime like cutting travel costs, creating more conservative forecasts, monitoring the pipeline for a slowdown, and expecting longer conversion times.
Why? Because the market won’t stay down forever. Consumers will start spending again. And when they do, you’ll see the ROI of your consistency.
Just like RevBoss has taken their own medicine and stayed the course on both outbound and inbound efforts, here at Marketing Insider Group we’ve kept our content strategy active and our lead generation efforts at the same level (or higher) than before.
In this article, I’ll cover why and how content marketing in a down economy can be your swiss army knife when other factors are out of your control. You can use it even in times of uncertainty to keep your pipeline flowing and earn a huge boost in ROI when markets go back on the upswing.
- Content marketing is 62% more cost affecting than traditional marketing methods.
- The companies that bounce back strongest from economic downturns are those that don’t cut marketing costs.
- Successful content marketing depends on momentum. Pausing your marketing efforts during a downturn leaves you playing catch up once it’s over.
- Staying focused on your lead gen and nurturing positions you for success when markets go back on the upswing.
Content Marketing in a Down Economy: Why it Matters
Hitting the pause button on marketing looks totally different in 2022 than it did in the past. No marketing used to mean eliminating expensive tactics like billboards, TV and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, and the like.
Today, you can execute an entire marketing strategy online.
If you’ve read our blog before, you probably already know that content marketing is 62% more cost effective (and generates 3X the leads) than traditional marketing methods.
Image Source: Visme
This is critical in times when companies are trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible. It makes it possible to keep marketing on the books even when you’re trimming costs.
Equally importantly, content shows both current and potential customers that they can trust you to be consistent. It maintains your brand visibility while delivering value to your audience, even when they’re not ready to buy.
Then, when things improve and buyers are ready to spend again, you can be confident they’ll look to your brand as a top choice. Cutting out marketing, on the other hand, will likely result in an empty pipeline and losing customers to competitors once the economy improves.
The Momentum Factor
Content marketing doesn’t yield results overnight. It takes time, frequent publishing, and steady consistency before you start seeing results. It requires marketers to take a long view of success, being willing to put in the effort for a while before the ROI arrives.
This is even truer in a time of economic downturn.
Here’s the thing: consumers may not be buying, but they still have needs. That means they still research, try to learn, and look for potential solution providers to pursue later, when they can make a purchase.
For example, veterans who are researching housing have different financial components to navigate compared to non-veterans. They might use informational sites such as Veteran.com for years before pulling the trigger on a home purchase. If those sources were to slash their marketing due to economic worries, their site may lose web search momentum.
If you stop marketing to save costs, your momentum suffers. You’re no longer earning new keyword rankings, generating new traffic, or creating content to be shared in other places.
As a result, your audience may not be able to find you, even if their needs align with what you can provide. When they do look to buy, you won’t be on their list. To boot, once you are ready to start marketing again, you’re looking at months of building new momentum before you see results again.
On the flip side, consistent content marketing in a down economy can actually shorten the time and depth of any downturn you experience in leads and conversions.
5 Things to Do Instead of Cutting Your Marketing Budget
Trim costs where you can
Just because you aren’t taking marketing off the budget list doesn’t mean you can’t trim costs elsewhere. Find non mission-critical budget items and reduce costs in those areas instead.
Eric mentioned that RevBoss cut their travel expenses — a smart move in a world where Zoom has become the norm. Reducing supplies or pausing new equipment purchases are other areas you might consider.
Keep an eye on your pipeline
Don’t jump the gun and cut costs before you see an actual dip in business activity. Consumer spending activity and demand varies greatly by industry and customer segment. It’s important not to make any sweeping changes without evidence of a real need to do so.
Monitor your pipeline closely for signs of changing trends. Use data-driven tools like your CRM, email marketing platform, SEO tool, and Google Analytics to track user, lead and customer behavior. Make your decisions objectively based on the data you analyze rather than what you hear in the news.
Adjust your forecasts
Reaching marketing and sales goals is important to keeping your teams feeling positive. Working to hit targets you know are unlikely, on the other hand, will only lead to frustration. Don’t set yourself — and your team — up for disappointment with unrealistic forecasts. If you (like many others) are seeing longer lead conversion times, adjust your forecasts accordingly so you know what to expect.
Focus on lead gen
To earn revenue, you need to convert paying customers. That’s why it’s tempting to double down on conversion efforts in an economic downswing. Paying attention to the leads already in your pipeline is of course important, but so is maintaining a strong lead generation strategy.
Leads you generate right now may not convert at the speed you usually expect, but they will in time. Don’t quit on your inbound or outbound lead gen efforts. Keep your pipeline full and be sure to implement a strong lead nurturing strategy to keep your leads engaged until they’re able to make a purchase.
Refresh and repurpose old content
If you do need to save on content creation costs, your existing content library is one place you can turn. In any economic climate, refreshing and repurposing old content can give your traffic a boost. Here’s what I recommend:
Use Google Analytics and other data tools to identify your best and worst performing content
Refresh your best performing content when needed by adding updated statistics, new visuals, or any new information relevant to the topic since its original publish date
Look through your worst performing content and delete irrelevant pieces. Make necessary changes (like better keyword usage, new visuals, etc.) to the rest so they perform better
Believe it or not, old content can be a huge source of new leads. HubSpot recently researched this very topic internally and found their old content accounts for 76% of their page views and 92% of their new leads.
Image Source: HubSpot
Playing the Long Game
Content marketing in a down economy really comes down to one critical commitment: taking a longer view when it comes to ROI. The research backs it up — Harvard Business Review reports that the companies that bounce back strongest after economic downturns are those that continue to prioritize marketing throughout.
You may not see results right away. Leads likely won’t convert at the rate you’re accustomed to. But if you’re confident in your brand (and we hope you are), you can trust that those leads will convert in time.
And even when buyers aren’t buying, they still need what your brand has to offer in the form of expertise, resources, and information about your products and services. Staying the course with your marketing strategy keeps your brand visible, present, and available so you can count on a big boost when the markets do go back on the upswing.
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