Why You Can’t Stop Marketing During a Financial Downturn or Crisis

Why You Can’t Stop Marketing During a Financial Downturn or Crisis

In a crisis, whether it’s a large-scale economic turmoil or business-specific troubles, organizations are often forced to make decisions to stay relevant until better times emerge.

Over the years, I’ve seen too many organizations immediately gut their marketing budgets and curtail sales team activities to improve profit margins or increase cash flow—and it is always a huge mistake.

As a business owner myself, I fully understand the need to cut costs when profits are falling, but I cannot emphasize this enough: Parking your marketing plans or stopping marketing activities altogether will prolong your pain for a number of reasons.

You run the risk of disappearing in your customers’ minds

If clients or prospects don’t hear from you for a while, they could assume your business has gone under or can’t meet their needs anymore. They may also turn to a competitor who grabs their attention while you were missing in action.

In situations where your salespeople may be grounded for a while, your marketing efforts may be the only way to get your message out and perhaps correct things that your competitors are saying about you. Even if it’s at a slower pace, you need to keep communicating with customers so they know your company is surviving the crisis and is prepared to help them once the market improves.

You may have to start over

When it’s all said and done, you may have to relaunch your business and rebuild your brand awareness. For companies you never targeted, that might not sound like that big of a deal, but what about the ones already in the pipeline?

You may need to rebuild prospects’ and even customers’ trust if you stop communicating with them. They are going to wonder why they haven’t heard from you. They would question the stability of your organization if you had to quickly eliminate business-critical activities, like marketing, to stay afloat. It puts doubt in their minds about whether they should do business with you. It will also cost a lot more to catch up, especially if your competitors are still “out there”.

You miss opportunities to help people—and your business

Regardless of what is going on within your organization or the world in general, there are businesses or people who could benefit from your product or service. Widespread crises tend to change people’s and businesses’ buying habits, needs, and priorities in ways that you would never think of.

If you stop marketing and engaging with the market, you miss opportunities to find prospects who weren’t on your radar before the crisis, but who now need your business.

The answer: Keep marketing to maintain your relevance

You must connect with your customers on a regular basis. Social media, email marketing, and digital marketing assets, like whitepapers or blogs, for example, can be cost-effective ways to continue providing information to customers and prospects. The frequency depends on your relationship with your customers and how much content you can develop and post.

Here are a few tips to consider:

Audit your customer-facing materials. Organizations who plan marketing messages in advance or who reuse and repurpose materials will need to evaluate them carefully before sending them out again. Messaging that comes across as too marketing, canned or tone-deaf/uncompassionate during an economic downturn, crisis or pandemic should be revised.

Additionally, make sure you can still meet your pricing, shipping, discount, and other promises you’ve put on your website and in marketing collateral. If you can’t, you need to update it. That could mean eliminating  or reserving for later direct mail pieces and giving your website a refresh.

Stay focused on your value proposition. In your messaging, tell clients specifically how your product or service benefits them and how you’re providing that value better than the competition. Make sure you’re following your customers and competition (either on social media or pick up the phone and ask/listen). By staying engaged with the market, you can adjust your message to be more impactful.

If a widespread crisis is impacting your audience, talk about how you can help them weather the challenges. If your business is the only one going through tough times, keep the message focused on what you can do for them that others can’t.

Revisit your branding message. A crisis is the perfect opportunity to think about how well you’re meeting your mission statement and fulfilling promises to the customer. Consider whether it is time to reinvent your brand and create a new marketing strategy that better aligns with where you are now—and where you want to be a year from now.

The good news is that crises end, and with the right attitude and strategy, businesses can navigate the challenges and survive the downturn. For some very savvy businesses, they even come out better on the other side.

If you would like to discuss your marketing challenges, we are happy to offer guidance. Contact us today.