Marketing in a downturn

B2B marketing in a recession: 3 strategies to survive and thrive  

We’ve all felt it: A growing sense of economic unease creeping into the B2B sphere. This sentiment is particularly noticeable in the logistics and supply chain sector, which is experiencing a downturn after an impressively profitable previous year.

What we’re seeing is that when markets are wobbly, many B2B companies go into panic mode with many departments – but especially in marketing. The instinctive reaction? To retreat, hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.

But here’s the thing: success during a recession isn’t about retreating. Knee-jerking reactivity risks alienating your target market when they need stability most.

Why marketing is a good idea during a recession

Research indicates businesses that keep marketing efforts steady (or even amp up) during a recession often come in a stronger position than their competition.

Here’s why…

1.    Maintain mindshare

Out of site, out of mind. This old saying also holds true for B2B brands. Your marketing efforts aren’t just generating leads; they’re also maintaining your brand’s presence and influence in the minds of your target audience.

Less marketing means your brand could slip off your prospects’ radars, shifting attention to your competitors.

2.    Keep your currents customers close

In a recession, customers need to feel more connected than ever. During difficult economic times, we’ve seen brands pull back on regular marketing/communications and as a result, send alarm bells ringing. Customers often interpret this as a sign of trouble, damaging the reputation and image you’ve worked so hard to build.

By keeping your marketing efforts steady, you safeguard your brand’s image and cement its standing in the minds of your customers. It reassures them that despite the economic downturn, you’re still committed to delivering what they’ve come to expect.

3.    Capitalize on competitors’ churn 

Recessions can lead to customer churn as businesses adjust their budgets and priorities. Clients may be looking for a more affordable option, higher value, better service – or maybe their current choice is no longer available.

This is where you step in. When customers are on the hunt for a new logistics or supply chain partner, value-based, credible messaging can reel them in, especially since many other brands tend to lay low during a downturn.

Which brings us to…

How to do marketing during a recession

Now that we’ve established the importance of marketing, even in tough times, let’s delve into how to effectively carry it out during a recession.

By focusing on three marketing strategies, you can optimise your marketing budget AND provide the confidence, reassurance and support your clients need in a time of heightened concern.  

Below, we break it down…

Three B2B recession marketing strategies

1.    Zoom in on your target group

When the pressure is on to drive revenue quickly, your instinct might be to cast a wider net.

However, focusing your marketing on your most valuable personas is a smart strategy to ensure your message resonates with customers that are interested (and likely use your services).

Don’t rush. Invest time to identify these priority customers. A good starting point? Your existing, most profitable customers. Deep dive into their firmographics, understand their commonalities, pinpoint their challenges and identify the value your services offer.

This targeted approach is a cornerstone of effective B2B marketing during a recession. With this understanding, you can laser focus your messaging and content tailored to your audience’s needs and current circumstances.

2.    Amplify your value messaging  

To successfully market during a recession, the second trick is to pinpoint what makes your product/service/solution the right choice, right now. And unearthing this information really isn’t that difficult.

Start by picking the brains of your sales team. How have their dialogues shifted in the past couple of months? What roadblocks are stopping potential customers from making a purchase? What tactics are they using to overcome these challenges?

Armed with a solid list of these value messages, you’re ready to put it to the test. But you don’t have to go all out with a massive campaign right off the bat — you can dip your toes in the water first. Launching a blog post, a newsletter or sharing on your organic social media platforms is a great starting point. (Just like we did here, if you caught that.)

And here’s some more good news: you don’t have to start from zero.

Look at existing case studies and testimonials that already touch on the pinpointed value messages and give them a new spin. Odds are you have a treasure trove of content that can be repurposed.

3.    Align across all teams

Everyone in the company must be aligned and marching towards the same goals — at the same pace — in the same way.

Market downturns are known to put a special kind of pressure on relationships between sales and marketing. As leads diminish, each party might begin trying to flow solo, forgetting that marketing and sales alignment is the path to success.

But take our earlier recommendation: marketing needs to receive (honest!) feedback from sales on what they are hearing from customers on the ground. Then, marketing can align with sales to determine what value propositions are most effective, which case studies fit best in certain scenarios and who’s doing what in the customer journey.

Recession marketing’s golden rule: don’t stop

By continuing to implement the marketing strategies that add the most value, you can provide customers with the trust, security and credibility during times where they’re feeling a bit shaky too.

You’ll strike the right balance of efficiently allocating your resources while ensuring your target audience feels understood.

It’s really just that simple.

Sometimes the smallest tweaks can have the most profound impact.

“Substantial evidence suggests that increasing marketing and advertising during a recession can increase market share and sales. As other companies might slash communications efforts in a downturn, they leave empty space in audience’s minds for your company to make strong impressions.”  

– Antje Roehl, Founder & CEO Ancora Communications