Three Marketing Strategies For Weathering Economic Uncertainty

Alfaro Recoba

Kristin Faulder is principal at Heurisay, a Nashville-based PR and communications agency that helps companies elevate their brand.

The whispers are everywhere; predictions of an impending economic recession have companies tightening their proverbial belts and cutting back on spending. Unfortunately, those cuts often hit marketing first (or early on), which can have a much longer-term and negative impact on the business.

I’ll start by sharing an example. I started working with a company that provides audio/visual (AV), creative services and technology to large medical and scientific meetings back in 2017. At that point, their marketing budget was pretty much nonexistent, and they hadn’t invested much time or money into getting their story to their audiences in decades. Over the course of three years, they went through a rebrand, updated their messaging, began sharing valuable content—including about virtual meetings—and started getting media coverage that positioned them as experts in their industry.

The results were—and are—staggering. When the pandemic hit and the meetings industry essentially shut down, they pivoted quickly to virtual meetings, kept their marketing efforts steady and have since seen unprecedented revenue growth. They actually had prospects reach out to them because they had been talking about things like virtual meetings before the pandemic, so they “obviously knew what they were doing.”

Without that earlier investment and focus on a content strategy, they could have ended up like most other companies in their industry—making layoffs, closing departments and losing significant revenue.

Their experience is backed up by data showing that marketers are focused on content: According to HubSpot research, “56% of marketers who leverage blogging say it’s effective and 10% say it’s the content type that generates the biggest ROI.”

Here are three things you should do as you hunker down for an unknown period of potential economic uncertainty.

Be A Valuable Resource To Your Audience

Every business and industry is facing its own obstacles and challenges in this unknown—economic, social and political—environment. That means your customers and potential customers are also trying to figure out how they will navigate what’s ahead. As an expert in your own corner of the world, you are in a unique position to help them plan for and get through the next 12 months (and beyond).

For example:

• What do you know about the world they inhabit—and their unique opportunities and challenges—that you can share?

• What best practices have you seen other companies implement to get through similar times and situations?

• Are there unique insights you can offer about their audiences that would help them stay relevant?

By demonstrating value consistently, you become indispensable to your customers and those who are not yet customers. If budgets get tightened and they can’t become customers right now, you’ll likely be the first one they call when they can.

Tell A Better Story Than Your Competitors

Health tech investor and former journalist Chrissy Farr regularly reminds companies that the language they use to tell their stories is important. It shouldn’t be complex or hard to understand; it should be clear and convey value. Most companies I’ve worked with over the years get defensive when they’re talking about competitors and say things like “we’re so much better than them.”

Don’t get defensive. Tell a better story.

Your customers and prospects don’t have the same loyalty to your brand and likely do not “drink the Kool-Aid” the same way your employees and colleagues do. It’s up to you to ensure they know why you’re better than the other players in the space, and more importantly, why you deliver more value to their business. If that’s not clear on your website, in your blog posts, on your social media channels, in your pitch decks and in articles you’re quoted in, the time is now to change that.

Stay Visible

One of the worst things you can do is stop all of your efforts and go dark. People have short attention spans, and when we get to the other side (of whatever economic reality we end up with), you want your product or service to be included in people’s budgets. If you all but disappear and your competitor serves as a valuable resource and tells a better story, guess who will be listed as a line item and who won’t?

Your marketing, PR and communications experts understand how to keep the lights on and ensure you are positioned as the resource for your customers, prospects and partners. Without them, not only might you fade into the background, but you might also have to rebuild and reinvest just to get back to where you are today. The time and resources that would require might set your business back; it could take years to recover, which gives existing competitors—and new entrants—time to move into the leadership position.

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