As a marketing professional, you know the score: whenever there’s a whisper of recession in the air, companies start pulling the plug on marketing campaigns in a bid to make savings. But that’s not good business sense.
As the people who convince customers to buy, communicate – and shape – company messaging, creating collateral that makes consumers sit up and take note through marketing is a key component of any multichannel campaign; even, and most especially, in a recession.
So let’s look at why marketing is essential during a downturn. We’ll arm you with facts and figures to show why marketing is more important now than ever.
Cutting costs can cost you customers
Giving marketing the axe is not only short-sighted; it’s downright bad for business.
In a crowded marketplace, it’s important for brands to remain at the front-of-mind – otherwise, they risk diminishing their brand equity, fading from the view of consumers, and losing their market share. And the cost of clawing their way back from that will far outweigh the potential short-term savings an adieu to marketing may bring.
Now is not the time to risk any competitive advantage your company may have. Businesses need to be seen to stand out and command attention, and savvy brands will capitalise on the share of the market opened up by those companies who choose to stop marketing efforts.
Companies will need to show how they add value if they want people to keep spending their hard-earned cash. So, marketing will be key in helping to shape and communicate this crucial messaging. People need reassurance right now, and good marketing will be able to help brands connect with their audience in an honest and authentic way.
The role of marketing in a recession
If your company thinks it can do without marketing, ask the people in charge if they still need customers. Do they want to attract more revenue? Keep hold of market share? They do? Great! It looks like marketing isn’t disposable, after all.
Knee-jerk reactions are common in a downturn, but the bottom line is: marketing is essential, not a nice-to-have. Rather than call for an end to marketing efforts a change in mindset is needed to maintain brand awareness and exposure to the consumer targets.
Changes will undoubtedly be needed, but as National Positions CEO Bernard May recently observed in his article for Forbes, there’s a big difference between elimination and reallocation when it comes to marketing in times of economic turmoil.
Short-term survival becomes more pressing than long-term growth during a recession, so pulling resources from lengthy campaigns and initiatives and turning attention to snappy, quick revenue drivers is one way that companies may decide to pivot, rather than panic. For example, switching from SEO (a long-term process) and investing in paid ads through Amazon, Google and Facebook can return more immediate results.
The importance of mail in marketing
Another way to make an immediate impact on customers is through the medium of tangible, touchable direct mail.
Your existing customer base is crucial in times of trouble, so connecting with them should be a priority. Focus on nurturing current clients, and enticing repeat business with discounts and promotions. If you’re wondering how mail can help, you might be interested to know that the latest JICMAIL update points to the increasing relevance of mail in the face of digital overload.
In fact, the most recent results from an analysis of Q2 2022 show a significant increase in the number of households retaining their mail. 44% of mail is still live in the home after 28 days, which is a significant increase on Q2 2021. And there’s been a 60% rise in the number of website visits prompted by mail in the five years of JICMAIL tracking to date.
So, why is mail so great for marketers?
Modern mail is data-driven, personalised, and has the potential to reach more people; it also tends to be viewed more often than a quick email. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these stats from a recent Royal Mail study:
- 100,000 pieces of direct mail received via door drop converted to 280,000 impressions, and were shared 4,000 times;
- Partially addressed mail converted to 390,000 impressions, and was shared 7,000 times;
- Fully addressed mail converted to 440,000 impressions, and was shared 11,000 times.
- Conversely, 100,000 emails sent converted to just 20,000 of emails opened.
Mail is also much better for the environment than people give it credit for. It was recently revealed that sending 65 emails is equal to driving 1km in terms of damage to our planet. Paper, on the other hand, is one of the few truly sustainable products. The paper industry follows recognised certification schemes to ensure the paper it uses comes from sustainable sources.
And these days, consumers are aware of the effects of their consumption and actions on the planet. so if your organisation doesn’t already embrace mail marketing, now is the time to start.
11 key considerations during a downturn
With an economic downturn looming, your organisation should be focusing on:
- Adjusting marketing goals to include share of market, voice, or engagement
- Developing a strategy that encapsulates a purpose beyond profits
- Strengthening brand loyalty through increased customer engagement
- Adding value to consumers who are likely to be making cutbacks
- Improving customer service – including website UX
- Offering incentives and promoting lower-price products
- Creating transparency around pricing and value
- Extending financing options for customers who may be struggling
- Showcasing benefits over features
- Presenting solutions to the challenges facing customers right now
- Expanding your target audience to reach customers less impacted by the recession.
It’s also advisable to focus on thought leadership during difficult times: if customers are less likely to spend money, it makes sense to invest in the modes of marketing that strengthen brand recognition, so that when the market improves, you’re front-of-mind.
Bracing for the future
“When times are good, you should advertise; when times are bad, you must advertise.”
It is actually possible for businesses to grow their brands during a recession if – and only if – they resist a knee-jerk reaction to give marketing the chop and sustain budgets and promotional activities. Customers need to see a consistent market presence from the brands they know and trust, because they need a reason to keep trusting.
Plan now for 2023
Get in touch to talk about how KPM can help to support your multichannel marketing campaigns both now, and when the downturn hits: