The Value of Marketing During All Economic Cycles

March 8, 2023

Are we heading for a repeat of the 2008 recession in 2023? Well, not exactly, according to experts who predict that 2023 won't see a thunderous crash like the one that sunk the global economy in 2008. They're predicting a creeping “slowcession” or even a soft landing that smothers inflation without stifling growth. Whether you distrust economic prognostications or choose to remain hopeful, you need to plan your marketing budget wisely — especially during uncertain economic times. The best advice for most, according to Harvard Business Review, is to avoid a "knee-jerk" reaction to simply cut marketing spend. As discussed in this post, marketing is a long-term investment. Maintaining your marketing efforts positions you for success when conditions improve.

Why You Should Maintain Your Marketing Budget During Economic Downturns
The HBR article provides some solid advice for coping with economic downturns, but, on the whole, it is better to maintain your marketing budget during uncertain economic times. Maintaining your marketing budget is a wiser decision than scaling back your marketing campaigns, because:

  • You need to maintain your brand awareness and retain your customers. Brand awareness is the level of familiarity that consumers have with your brand. It is the degree to which your customers associate and recognize your brand with your products and services.
  • When economic times are uncertain, you can expect an increase in competition. Maintaining your marketing budget keeps you ahead of the competition with more opportunities to stand out from competitors and attract new business.
  • You can employ other cost-effective marketing strategies like social media, email and content marketing to get the most out of your existing marketing budget. For example:
    • Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are a quick connection pathway for customers to promote your brand.
    • Content marketing — blog posts, social media updates, email outreach and newsletters — are cost-effective (and often free) ways to attract and engage customers.
  • Keeping up your marketing efforts pays dividends in customer loyalty, especially during difficult times. Your marketing keeps you in touch with customers and promotes awareness of your services and products. Tough times often build stronger relationships and bonds and increases the likelihood that those customers will continue to do business with you.
  • You can seize opportunities by entering new markets, acquiring the customers of distressed businesses, or offering products/services in high demand during a downturn.

Wise Marketing is a Long-Term Investment
With wise marketing, you are making a long-term investment. Building brand awareness, nurturing customer relationships, and achieving measurable results and ROI takes time. Specifically:

  • Brand-building requires time, effort, and patience. You won't see immediate results, but the effort will pay off in the long term.
  • Relationship-building with customers requires trust, credibility, and loyalty that can only be achieved during consistent, ongoing marketing efforts.
  • Building customer relationships is a crucial aspect of marketing. It promotes loyalty, repeat business, and free and effective word-of-mouth advertising.
  • Many customers have sales cycles that are long and complex. Your customers will likely take a long time to make purchasing decisions — your marketing efforts need to be consistent through those sales cycles to keep your products and service top-of-mind.

Let's Recap
When you maintain your marketing budget during economic downturns you stay visible, competitive and focused on customer loyalty. You and your customers can weather the downturn and come out stronger when the economy rebounds.

How to Connect Your Brand with Customers
Your brand needs to get inside the mind of consumers in your marketplace. It requires optimizing your value proposition and creating an intersection of your value proposition and what the customer is after. At Oxford, we call that linkage "Brilliance." And that's what we do.