Recession-proof marketing tactics – 10 Marketing Steps for weathering an economic downturn

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Full on recession, the credit crunch, the big squeeze, an economic slow down– it doesn’t matter how we refer to it, it’s what we do now that will determine if we escape unscathed from it.  The impact of the recession and long term economic gloom has left many businesses struggling to manage their overheads, budgets and forecasting.  By implementing strategic marketing plans and monitoring results based marketing activities, B2B SME’s can ensure that they stay (or get) one step ahead of their competitors.

Many companies cut spend and often on marketing when figures take a downturn.  For in-house Marketing Managers, the key to surviving a recession with your marketing budget, and your job intact, is to demonstrate the clear value (and return) of your marketing efforts to the company.  This is easier to do when you have invested in online PR & Marketing, than with more traditional mediums such as direct mail and advertising, but it is nonetheless important to both.  To accomplish this, you need to measure your activities, and find a way to report them.  If you follow the 10 Steps below you can see how it is possible to market through an economic slowdown and how you can better measure your marketing activities and your return on investment (ROI).

Simply Marcomms –  10 Marketing Steps for weathering an economic downturn


1.                   Plan plan plan – How can you say your marketing campaigns are successful or unsuccessful if you haven’t got a strategic marketing plan and you haven’t got a set of targets?  The plan should not be fixed – and in difficult times it can be adapted.  The objectives at the beginning of the year may have been to increase market share for a particular niche service or to successfully launch a new product.  Six months into an economic slowdown, the Board of Directors will be asking questions about what you are doing to increase sales in general.  This is where you need to take a look at what is working and what isn’t.  Resources/Budgets and Marketing activities can be diverted to areas that matter most.  You should have a clear 3, 6 and 12 month marketing plan, clearly define the market sectors that you are targeting then review your spend and ROI for EACH marketing activity.

2.                   Optimise your budget – look at what is working and what isn’t.  If you can’t measure it, stop it. The secret to creating high impact marketing campaigns is to optimise your limited budget.  A one-appearance Trade Journal advert, a glossy brochure that’s still in the box, or a fancy flash website will quickly erode your budget and may not be adding anything to your bottom line.  Use low-budget marketing techniques to get your sales & marketing messages out to your clients and target audience on a regular basis, and watch sales revenue grow.

3.                   Use PR instead of expensive advertising –  There are several reasons why a low-budget marketing plan is a must for smaller businesses in today’s advertising saturated world.  Expensive advertising exposure does not necessarily translate to increased sales.  Every pound spent on marketing should produce a good return in sales.   In its most effective form, when handled by professionals, PR can create a real competitive advantage for companies.   Through aiding expansion in to new markets, reducing barriers to competition, attracting new employees, partners or investors, establishing a premium (or perceived) value for products or services or responding to a crisis situation.

Public relations helps to build the profile and raise awareness of a company, the operations eg Health & Safety, the services it offers, its opinions on industry issues and its values by openly communicating with key audiences, like clients, employees, potential employees, the rest of the industry and industry press.

Online PR can help improve the bottom line, but it should be done for more than the short-term objective winning of customers or increasing sales.  You will also benefit from a longer-term reputation and perceived status that is created about your business.   Your reputation can be managed both on and offline through effective use of PR.

Blog away!  Get your opinions published online.  By careful identification of topics, public relations can help you to be considered THE industry expert on a topic.  By vocalising comments on forums and blogs and news sites, your opinions will be deemed as specialist. This creates an advantage for business dealings with your company as you establish a reputation for understanding the industry.  It also helps your search engine rankings if you point your comments back to your website.

4.            Online 101 – Use your website Publish your press releases, link to your blog, add new and regular content and watch your website act as a 24/7 sales resource which generates marketing leads on a daily basis.  Invest in a CMS (content management system) update your pages regularly and add new content.   Log your traffic – remember how do you know if it’s working for you if you don’t measure it?

5.            Online 201 – Forget PPC (pay-per-click) and invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – This links to using your website. Make sure that your website pages are optimised for the search engines – that’s the searchers or the potential clients.  Make use of an online PR agency to create content and use an SEO firm to optimise for you.  You can spend your PPC advertising budget on SEO.  Search marketers insist that SEO and social media are recession-proof marketing tactics.

6.            Create email campaigns – It costs a lot to send a direct mail piece to a potential customer – design, print, copywriting, fulfilment, postage, envelopes and labels .  It’s not very green, not very measurable and there is a better way!  Create and send out email campaigns – There are many ways to do this – but the most cost effective is to use permission based email marketing. The ‘permission’ part means you are emailing those people who have agreed to receive your emails, i.e., they have given their permission to be on your list. Permission based email can be up to ten times more effective than using direct mail.  Create a template with links to your site and then add new messages depending on the audience.  Email marketing is cost effective –You can get your message delivered for around half a pence per recipient. You only send to the people who request it, instead of blanket mailing to the world at large.  It’s immediate – Email marketing can generate an immediate response. Instead of waiting for a recipient to follow a link and visit your site you can get your message to them when it counts. The majority of your recipients will see your message in the first 24-48 hours. It’s relevant – Well it should be!  Email makes it easy to segment your prospects.  This way you can ensure your message goes to the individuals most likely to be interested in your offer. You can personalise emails to suit the particular interests of that person instead of sending a generic brochure. Finally it’s completely measurable – More than any other form of marketing, email can provide immediate results.  You can establish who opened your email and when, which links they clicked, which files they downloaded who forwarded it on to a colleague, what they had for breakfast – ok not the last one but you can see what we mean!


7.            Telemarketing & Lead Qualification – Invest in Telemarketing activity then Telesales – if your Sales people say they are not busy – get them on the phones – they can be qualifying leads and making appointments.  There is no point in an expensive sales resource travelling 250 miles with a full day out of the office to see a potential client who turns out to be in the market for a particular service which you don’t provide.  It does happen!

8.            Invest in a Contact Management, CRM /Lead Management or MIS (Marketing Information System) – Invest in a Contact Management System so you can log all campaigns, leads and sales & marketing activity – If the lead (above) had been qualified over the telephone, comments could have been logged and the expense avoided.  Similarly you may have called everyone on the 1000+ contacts database that you bought in, but where are the warmest leads logged?  How do you know when the leads were last contacted and who (if anyone) had responded?  Remember point 2 above?  If you can’t measure it, stop it.  Utilising the database again may be fine if it’s current and well researched and from your target audience, but it also may be like flogging a dead horse, worse still, flogging a dead horse that has been flogged before!

9.            Integrate your campaigns – Use telemarketing to establish the correct contact and their email address, then email them the campaign, then make a follow up sales call, then send a letter to confirm the appointment, then hold a face to face meeting.  Your target customers need to hear your marketing messages at least 7 times to influence a buying decision. Using all of your budget on a single campaign or tactic does not allow you to repeat your message often enough to make an impact.  Marketing impact can be greatly improved by using multiple marketing channels and integrated campaigns. Sales prospects or new business leads are more likely to become clients if they read about your company in a relevant trade journal and receive a timely email from you, and take your brochure back to the office from an industry seminar and visit your website.

10.          Outsource elements of your PR & Marketing Activity – If you don’t have an in-house marketing resource your sales team will still need marketing leads to be generated.  You can outsource any element of this activity.  You will need to ensure that you agree exactly what you wish to achieve when you employ a marketing consultancy.  The benefits are that you can turn up or turn down the activity – you can employ experts, you get value for money and a measurable ROI if you ask for it.

These are just a few of many tactics and strategies used by successful companies to create high-impact marketing campaigns using lower budgets.   Marketing success comes from creativity; not from having the biggest budget.  The further you can stretch your marketing pounds to reach your target market, the higher the impact of your marketing messages.

Simply Marcomms – B2B Online PR, SEO and Marketing Communications can be contacted on 0870 199 4044

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