• nat sharp

3 essential marketing activities when budgets are cut

Updated: Jul 10

Keep your brand presence during the crisis

The knee jerk reaction for many of us when our sales are heavily hit is to stop marketing. But, please don't do this. You don't want to undo the work you've already done and the foundations you've got in place. Brands take a long time to establish and momentum is integral to long term success. According to the Harvard Business Review, during any type of downturn, customers typically fall into four groups: 1. Slam on the brakes - this audience has been hit hard financially and typically reduces all spending 2. Pained but patient - optimistic for the long term but concerned about short term spending 3. Comfortably well-off - confident about riding out the dip in the economy but more selective than usual with their spending 4. Live for today - unconcerned about savings and likely to continue as normal for as long as possible).

The need for brand marketing

Regardless of what group you fall into, brand marketing is more important than ever when we're in a recession. Your marketing objectives should shift from lead generation and conversation, to brand awareness, ensuring you're communicating your identity and values in a well-considered and emotive way. Continuity is fundamental to business success. You don't want to lose your brands share of voice. Brand awareness and engagement can take years to build, so don't undo all the good work you've already been doing. There is also evidence that businesses that increase their advertising budgets during a recession thrive. Mark Ritson from Marketing Week advises 'The best marketers will be upping, not cutting their budget'. He explains studies that show companies that increased their ad budgets during the recession grew sales much faster than their rivals – not only during the downturn but also beyond it demonstrating the need to increase, rather than decrease activity. Here are my 3 marketing musts for small businesses at the moment:

1. Continue with social media Keep engaging with your followers on social media. Social media has seen an uplift during the year so this isn't a time to stop posting. You may well have changed the content you're posting, but if time and budget are heavily restricted, make sure to maintain a minimum level of activity to keep it going. At the very least post twice a week. If you're stuck for content ideas this is a good time to leverage customer reviews, motivating quotes and curated content as well as behind the scene photographs. As long as you're authentic and transparent, social media can be a powerful medium for building trust. Feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positive messaging will go a long way to enhancing your brand. This could be in the form of supporting and giving back to your local community and supporting other local businesses. 2. Protect your SEO

Online marketing is going to become even more important as we continue with more remote working, so your online presence needs to take centre stage. Remember at the very least you want to protect your Google rankings. Make sure you have the foundations in place with some basic SEO – always start by ensuring your website is fully optimised. Then move onto leveraging Google My Business. Try and invest regularly in creating some blogs. If you can create a weekly blog post on your website and continue this for some months, this will go a long way to enhance your Google status. And don't underestimate the power of customer reviews on Google. Follow up with friendly customers and partners and ask if they will kindly write a review for you.

3. Communicate with your customers Don't fall into the trap of going radio silent with your customers or prospects. Continue to send regular communication to keep an open dialogue either by email or letter. Remember that as a general rule 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your loyal customers. Even if your business has been hit financially, it's your loyal customers who will be most likely to return. And loyal customers tend to spend more. Email marketing can be a highly cost-effective acquisition and retention tool with 59% people advising it impacted their purchasing decision. And now, more than ever, it's vital that you keep your customers abreast of any changes.

Keep your business moving

If you feel unsure of how to move forward, make sure you're communicating regularly with your customers and maintaining an open dialogue. Be the calm reassuring light by providing uplifting and hopeful content from a brand customers can trust to build deeper relationships with even longer lifetime value. Spend this time investing in your website and building your SEO to future proof your business. Combine this with regular blogging and sharing your skills and expertise and your customers and Google rankings will thank you for it. First and foremost keep your business moving, and you'll be in the best position to come back strong.

For further help and advice read How to communicate with your customers, how to adapt your business and 5 ways to boost your online presence.

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