In the current climate - with the economy looking down the barrel of a particularly nasty, recessionary environment - many businesses will be scrambling to cut costs.
Marketing is one of those areas that tends to get hammered first, as it’s often an easy cost to cut.
I’m not going to tell you not to review your marketing spend (as I’m not privy to your financial situation). However, I do believe that being too aggressive in reducing marketing spend is not a good move as cutting marketing too much in a recessionary environment can cause even more harm (the double whammy of getting a smaller slice of a shrinking pie).
On the flip side of the equation, if you are able to maintain a good level of activity - within the constraints of your budget - then you can at least stem the potential decline as much as possible, or even set yourself up to grow market share (and emerge from the other side in even better shape than before).
With that in mind I’m going to share seven ways to reduce your marketing spend without having a negative impact on performance. This is as opposed to a panicked slashing of spend, where you wind up causing more harm than good.
- Communicate your value - This is a big one. A marketing expert I consider one of the best in the business once said to me ‘in the absence of value I question the price’. Now is the time to double down on both understanding your value, and communicating it to potential customers, as price sensitivity is likely to go through the roof as people and businesses look to tighten their belts. This approach helps you save money by making your marketing so much more effective. Understand your value proposition and ensure it permeates through all aspects of your marketing messaging.
- Review software - Based on a number of recent projects I’ve undertaken with clients, this is a key area for immediate cost savings with minimal performance impact. For example, you might be paying substantial sums each month for an email marketing tool with all the bells and whistles, but you’re only using a fraction of the feature set. Review your marketing software and determine what features you need from any tools you use, and then change accordingly if there is a less expensive alternative that is going to meet your needs. For example, a client of mine recently saved in excess of $1500 per month just by swapping from one marketing automation system to another (and the performance is actually better on the new one). If you only use software infrequently, consider canning your subscription and instead paying someone for a one-off use. A good example of this is keyword research software. Something like Keyword Keg would cost around $50 NZD per month, but if you only use it on occasion then you could cancel and instead go on Fiverr or Legiit and buy a keyword research “gig” when needed.
- Utilise free tools that do a ‘good enough’ job - Following on from the above, look for opportunities to use free tools that do a sufficient job for now. Canva is a great example. While Adobe’s creative suite offers much better functionality, if you just need to do some basic DIY social media posts, YouTube thumbnails etc, then you may be better off to use Canva and save.
- Trim wasted spend from digital advertising - While I don’t advocate at all slashing your digital advertising (in fact, I think that panicked cutting to spend is going to harm a lot of businesses) you should take this as a timely opportunity to review what you are spending and how you are spending it. For example, if you run Google ads, are you getting value for money from your spend? Review your search terms and be ruthless in using negative keywords to eliminate poor performers. Unless you are happy to advertise only for exposure, make sure you have conversion tracking set up as well to see if/how your ads turn into leads and sales.
- Distribute content more widely - One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make is thinking that content marketing means ‘writing an article and sticking it on a blog’ and then leaving it at that. You can do so much more with your content. For example, create a video version and upload that video to YouTube. Create an audio version as a podcast. Share across social media, email to your database etc. Now is the time to distribute far and wide.
- Start going hard on content marketing - One of the best ‘recession proof’ digital marketing strategies you can follow is undertaking a sustained campaign of content marketing. What you want to do here is find the questions people are asking in your niche/industry, and then create informative and helpful content to answer those questions. Optimise this content for Google and other search engines (SEO) and then distribute it across your branded channels as per above. Also look for opportunities to build and leverage an organic social media following as well. The downside of this approach is that it does take time to scale up, but it’s a bit like compound interest - worth it in the end.
- Market to your existing/previous customers - Many people seem to view marketing as something only useful for attracting new customers to a business. However, if you’ve been trading for a while, then chances are you have a whole bunch of existing/previous customers. If they have purchased from you in the past (and had a good experience) then they are generally going to be more likely to buy again than a fresh customer buying for the first time. Allocate some marketing budget and energy to following up with past customers and getting them to re-order via up sells, cross sells etc.
I hope you find these tips helpful.
Any questions, please ask. I’m going to be sharing a ton more content in the coming weeks on how you can continue to market your business in what is clearly going to be a slowing economy.
If you have a specific question or challenge you need help with, leave a comment below or message me and I’ll give you some advice.