How to Maximize Your Marketing Budget in an Economic Downturn

Struggling to keep your marketing budget, prove the ROI of your efforts, and successfully grow the reach of your campaigns? Fear not! Learn how to make the most of your marketing spend and still stand out.

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The prevailing economic uncertainty is undoubtedly causing anxiety for marketing leaders, their teams, and agencies. Marketers are well aware that during an economic downturn, their budget is often a prime target.

Given the current unstable stock market, ongoing supply chain challenges, strategic hiring freezes and staff layoffs, inflation fears, and dwindling consumer spending, the question on every marketer's mind is: What actions should I take?

If this sounds like you, use this step-by-step guide to maximize your marketing budget in these key areas:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Partner Marketing
  • Customer Marketing

How To Build Brand Awareness

Even though the economy may be taking a dip, it doesn't mean your brand has to follow suit. An economic downturn can be the perfect opportunity to show off your brand's resilience, stand out from the pack and grab more market share. And what better way to do that than with a solid brand marketing strategy? Think of it as an investment in your brand's future, helping you weather the storm and position yourself for success when the economy improves. So, grab your umbrella, and let's start building that marketing plan - the looming recession may be all doom & gloom, but your relevance doesn't have to be.

Target the Right Audience

Don't spread yourself too thin by targeting too many accounts in a B2B awareness campaign. You'll end up spinning your wheels and watching your marketing budget disappear into the ether.

  • Invest in market research. Consumer behavior has shifted, and if you're relying on the research you did 6 months ago, your understanding of the marketplace and your customers need to be updated. Not sure where to start? Customer Success Collective helps you learn how to do customer research.
  • Conduct a closed won/loss analysis with your sales team. Create a list of all your deals in the last 3 months and meet with your sales team to as questions and analyze them. Your findings can help you capture market and competitive intelligence and improve marketing content, messaging, and targeting. Learn how to conduct a closed won/loss analysis here.
  • Get your marketing strategy on point with LinkedIn's audience segmentation tools. Target companies, job titles, and interests that'll make your campaign sizzle with engagement and results. Learn how to target on LinkedIn
  • Keep fine-tuning and testing your target market, personas, and industries until you understand your ICP and best-performing marketing channels.

Understand Campaign Impressions and Frequency

Do you know the average number of impressions required for a potential prospect to sit up and take notice of your brand? Or the frequency needed to turn a lead into a conversion?

If you're scratching your head, it's time to dig into the data from your past campaigns. To make the most of your advertising budget in 2023, you need to know exactly how many impressions it takes to impact brand awareness each quarter.

Max Massingill, the VP of Activation at Transmission, has the inside scoop. He says the sweet spot for B2B awareness campaigns is 18-25 exposures per quarter per account. By being selective with your audience, you increase the chances of making a lasting impression on the accounts that matter most to your brand.

But beware! If you aim too wide, you risk overexposing your brand, leaving potential prospects saying, 'Who are you again?'

Search Engine Marketing

Take advantage of opportunities while others back down. When it comes to your search engine marketing strategy, if you're not present, someone else will be. Don't make the mistake of cutting back on paid marketing efforts, as this could result in losing market share to competitors who are still investing in their online presence.

Think about this:

  • Increased competition: A recession can lead to increased competition, but if you maintain your SEM presence, you'll benefit and grow your online reach. If you cut it back, you'll lose market share to your competitors that are still showing up. Research shows that after just six months without advertising, average consumer brand awareness decreases by 24%.
  • Lower cost per click: During a recession, the cost per click tends to decrease, which means you can get more value for your PPC budget if you maintain and optimize your ad spend.
  • Increased online activity: Economic uncertainty can lead to people spending more time online researching products and services, making it the perfect time to reach potential customers.
  • Long-term impact: SEM provides long-term benefits like building brand recognition and establishing a strong online presence, which is crucial for survival during a recession and sets you up for success when the market improves.

Remember this popular adage: When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise. Instead of cutting back on SEM spend, consider reevaluating your strategy and finding ways to maximize your ROI.

Content Marketing

Leveling up your content game and becoming a go-to source for information should also be a part of your strategy during an economic downturn. People want to make informed purchases in tight budget situations, so research takes center stage. That's why sprucing up your current content and thinking about what unique value you can bring to the market could pay off big time.

Don't be afraid to tackle tough questions and show off your expertise by delving into topics that solve the problems your product or service addresses. Give solid answers to common queries and highlight what sets you apart. Address your target audience's fears and biggest concerns, especially at the beginning of their journey with you.

To create an effective content marketing strategy, mix it up with different tactics:

Blog posts: Posting regular blog posts on topics related to your business and industry can establish you as a thought leader and drive organic traffic to your website. Google's algorithms have smartened up, so it's less about stuffing content with keywords and all about quality content and addressing user intent—what people want to find when they type a word or phrase into the search engine bar. It's critical to follow SEO best practices when writing. Learn more about on-page SEO to boost your traffic here.

Social Media: Share your content on popular platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook to reach a wider audience and increase engagement. Short-form videos are taking over social media because they have the highest return on investment of any social media strategy.

Infographics: Visual content like infographics makes complex info easy to understand and remember, and they're super shareable too!

Video Marketing: Creating and sharing videos on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tiktok can boost engagement and drive traffic to your site.

Webinars: Hosting live webinars or on-demand webinars can help educate your target audience, provide value, and generate inbound leads.

Podcasts: Publishing audio content that is genuinely helpful and interesting is another way to generate leads. However, each episode must provide tangible value to your target audience if you expect the audience to tune in.

E-books and Whitepapers: In-depth content like e-books and whitepapers can provide valuable information and generate leads.

Case Studies: Sharing real-life examples of how your product or service helped solve a problem can build credibility and trust with your audience.

Newsletters: Sending newsletters regularly to your subscribers keeps them updated on industry news, trends, and company updates.

So, get creative and give your content game a boost!

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a powerful tool that can help businesses maximize their digital marketing budgets even during an economic downturn. By leveraging social media platforms, businesses can reach a large audience with minimal advertising spend compared to traditional marketing methods. Let's face it, times are tough, and we need to make every penny count. Here are the reasons why social media marketing can help.

Targeted Advertising:

One of the biggest advantages of social media marketing is its ability to target specific audiences. By using data-driven targeting options, businesses can reach the right people at the right time with personalized content. This can lead to higher engagement rates and better conversion rates. For example, when advertising on Linkedin, you can target members using profile-based professional attributes, re-target visitors from your website or based on ad engagement, and upload lists of contacts of companies for your account-based marketing efforts.

Read the step-by-step guide to Linkedin Targeting here.

Cost Effective:

Social media marketing is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional marketing methods such as in-person events. With a low budget, businesses can create high-quality content and reach a large audience. Social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok also offer affordable advertising options for small businesses. For example, Instagram's sponsored posts and stories can be used to reach a wider audience at a low cost.

Increased Brand Awareness:

Social media marketing can help businesses increase brand awareness by reaching a large audience with engaging content. By creating content that resonates with their target audience, businesses can build a strong social media presence and establish themselves as industry leaders.

Better Engagement:

Social media allows businesses to engage with their customers in real time, which can lead to better customer satisfaction and loyalty. By responding to comments and messages promptly, businesses can build trust and establish a strong relationship with their audience. For example, Wendy's Twitter account gained attention for its witty and engaging responses to customer inquiries, leading to increased brand loyalty.

User-Generated Content:

Social media marketing can also leverage user-generated content to increase engagement and promote brand awareness. By encouraging customers to share their experiences with the brand, businesses can create a community of loyal followers who promote their brand for them.

Adobe is one company that knows how to put the power of user-generated content to work. They're filling up their Instagram feeds with inspiring content that's been edited and designed using their own tools.

But it's not just a smart move; it's a cost-effective one. By sharing content created by its customers, Adobe is building up a loyal fanbase and promoting its brand with genuine testimonials. It's like having a squad of hype people cheering them on from the sidelines.

And it's not just their customers that they're leveraging for social media success. Adobe's also tapping into its employees' love for the company by using EveryoneSocial's employee advocacy platform. By getting their team members to share about Adobe on social media, they're able to expand their reach and drive up engagement. It's like having an army of brand ambassadors that are passionate about the company's products and mission.

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Partner Marketing

Teaming up with a like-minded brand is a savvy and cost-effective method to broaden your reach, tap into fresh leads, and boost your brand's overall recognition. And let's not forget, when partnerships are a match made in B2B heaven, they enable you to connect with potential customers where they are, minimizing the risk of your future campaigns.

Partner Marketing Trends

Forrester predicts that 2023 is going to be all about the customer. In fact, as many as 40% of B2B brands are expected to ditch channel marketing this year and pivot to marketing partnerships.

Strategic marketing partnerships will be key as digital competition heats up. According to Forbes, B2B digital ad spending is set to hit a whopping $15 billion next year. It will be a battleground out there for B2B awareness campaigns trying to catch the attention of their target audience. But partnering up with a like-minded brand means you'll have a greater chance of breaking through the noise without burning through your budget.

B2B Partner Marketing Strategies

Here are 7 B2B partner marketing strategies to boost your brand.

Co-create content: Develop thought leadership content together to build brand awareness and generate leads. From eBooks to industry studies, investing in longer-form content can be a great way to share costs and reach a wider audience.

Guest blogging: When your audience is still small, this is a great way to "borrow" an audience from an already reputable company. Co-founder of Buffer, Leo Widrich credits guest blogging as the biggest tactic that helped his company acquire more than 100,000 customers in nine months. Find out how he did it here.

Collaborate on social media: Cross-promote campaigns, co-create graphics, and track traffic and lead generation data with your partner. This low-commitment approach can help you gauge audience fit and decide whether to take your partnership to the next level.

Host a virtual event: Webinars can be a powerful lead generation tool. Co-produce high-quality, lead-generating events with a partner to collect valuable data and drive pipeline.

Try affiliate links: Test-drive your partnership with customized links and track traffic and leads. If your KPIs are strong, consider deepening your relationship.

Launch a referral program: Establish trust and bring in high-quality leads at a lower cost by sharing referrals with your partner.

Share leads: Collaborate with your partner to qualify and share leads generated by your co-marketing activities. With great communication and trust, this tactic can help grow your customer base.

Offer shared customer discounts or bundles: Partner up to offer complementary products or services to win over new B2B customers. It's a win-win for both businesses!

Customer Marketing

As marketers, we know that converting a lead to a customer is expensive. But, did you know that it can cost as much as 7x more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one?

So this year, stop treating your customers like strangers after the deal is closed and start investing in customer marketing so you can help maintain a strong relationship with them and maybe even upsell more of your awesome products or services.

Follow these customer marketing strategies to keep your customers sticking around and growing your revenue, even when the going gets tough.

What is customer marketing?

Customer marketing is when you focus your marketing efforts on your existing customers instead of attracting new ones.

The main goals of customer marketing are to enhance the customer experience and encourage your current customers - who already adore your products or services - to:

  • Check out your new offerings.
  • Upgrade their existing services with your business.
  • Spread the word about your business to their friends and family, which can increase brand awareness and potentially bring in new customers.

This last point is especially important for the long-term success of your B2B business. In fact, according to Referral Rock, a whopping 84% of B2B decision-makers rely on referrals when choosing to work with another business.

To sum it up, it's a smart move to invest in keeping your customers happy, loyal, and willing to sing your praises to their networks. After all, happy customers = a thriving business!

The Benefits of Customer Marketing

Minimize Risks. Your existing customers are the real MVPs! You already know their needs, wants, and goals because you have already won their business. So instead of pouring money into new tactics to attract new customers, minimize running a campaign that flops and maximize profits by focusing on renewing, upselling, and getting referrals from your loyal customer base.

Save Marketing Budget. Suppose you've tightened the purse strings a bit on lead acquisition efforts. In that case, you now have some wiggle room to focus on supporting your existing customers, building brand loyalty, and increasing brand awareness–tactics that support long-term growth.

Improve Retention. When B2B customers are hesitant to make major purchases due to budget constraints, a higher customer retention rate could be the difference between making bank or going bust. In this tough climate, you don't want to be taking any steps backward. So, don't forget to give some love to your current customers, and watch as your bottom line stays healthy and happy.

Customer marketing tactics you can use to build brand loyalty

Are you ready to integrate customer marketing into your B2B strategy this year? Here are five low-cost tactics you can use ASAP.

#1 - Customer Training

SaaS models can be pretty darn complex, especially when you're dealing with B2B customers. But by offering free customer training, you're not only adding value and solving real customer needs but also creating a stronger end user of your product. And let's be real, who doesn't love a savvy user?

But here's the kicker: skill-building and education are also key players in building that coveted brand loyalty. And that's especially true for those B2B customers. From webinars to work reviews, B2B customers want to be educated about industry challenges to perform their jobs more effectively.

#2 - New Feature Demos

Make sure to prioritize your existing customers when it comes to introducing new features. They're the ones who have already bought into your product, so they deserve to be the first to know about any exciting updates. Plus, when they see that you're constantly improving and enhancing your services, they'll be even more likely to stick around for the long haul.

New feature demos also show them that you're listening to their feedback and improving based on their needs.

Think about it: unveiling a new feature your customers have asked for is like hitting a home run. You're not only meeting their needs, but you're also showing them that you care about their experience with your product. And that's a win-win situation for everyone involved.

#3 - Customer Appreciation Events

Whether it's an exclusive panel discussion, a cozy fireside chat, or a fun experiential event, there are endless ways to engage and reward your top customers. And thanks to the magic of virtual events, you can provide a memorable brand experience without breaking the bank.

Webinar platforms like Welcome, This webinar platform make it easy to host high-quality virtual events that not only entertain your customers but also gather valuable feedback. With robust analytics tracking engagement levels, you'll have all the data you need to fine-tune your marketing campaigns and retain your top customers.

#4 - Better Customer Service

If your marketing team and customer service team is siloed, you're doing it wrong. Yes, strong customer service is crucial for retaining customers during tough times, but if you really want to support your customers best, sharing insights and working with marketing is a must.

Think about it: your customer service team is on the front lines, interacting with customers daily. They have a wealth of knowledge and feedback that could be incredibly valuable to your marketing and product teams. By sharing these insights and using them to inform your buyer personas, customer marketing campaigns, and product development, you'll create a more cohesive and effective customer experience.

But how do you make this happen? It's all about systematizing your approach. Determine ways to collect, analyze, and apply customer feedback across the company and ensure everyone is on the same page. Encourage collaboration and communication between teams, and celebrate wins that result from this integrated approach.

#5 - Customer Referral Program

When someone refers their network to your business, it's a pretty big deal. It means they trust you, value your services, and think highly enough of you to put their own reputation on the line.

And in a down market, that kind of trust is worth its weight in gold. Not only can it help you retain existing customers, but it can also introduce you to qualified new business. That's where a customer referral program comes in.

By leveraging your positive relationship with your existing customers, you can create a program that encourages them to refer their friends and colleagues to your business. This could be as simple as sending out an email campaign asking for referrals or as complex as offering incentives like discounts or special perks.

If you don't have the resources to roll out a fully baked referral program, consider asking happy customers to write a review. Reviews provide invaluable feedback on your products and services, and customer reviews on sites like G2 and Capterra can also be a powerful marketing tool.

When potential customers are researching your business, they're likely to turn to these review sites to get an unbiased opinion from other users. Positive reviews can give your business a serious boost, building trust and credibility with potential customers. They also provide a platform for your existing customers to rave about your services and share their success stories.

You may be wondering how to get more positive reviews. It's actually pretty simple. The best method is running an NPS survey, identifying promoters, and asking them to leave a recommendation on an online review platform.

Get step-by-step directions on how to do this here.

Remember, when your top customers spread the word about your business, it can lead to a domino effect of new business and partnerships. And in a tough year, that can make all the difference.

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