There is no escaping the recent headlines that suggest another recession may be upon us or that we may greatly feel the impact should a certain neighbouring country enter into one. Often, during these tumultuous economic times, companies are forced to cut back spending, ease hiring and make contingency plans to weather the storm. And when companies cut spending, they often look to the marketing function to take the first swing.
For SMBs who are already faced with limits on their marketing budget, cutting even more can be detrimental. Marketing, like any function, can be scaled back to accommodate changes in the macroeconomic environment, provided a company understands how to prioritize their marketing tactics.
Here are some general guidelines to help SMBs assess their marketing program and spend when faced with having to cut costs.
1. Put Re-Branding on Hold – If your company is in the midst or about to begin a re-branding exercise, consider delaying. For some companies, a brand ‘refresh’ is undertaken when the brand has not been maintained or revised in several years. In this situation, if not changing the brand will no short-term impact a company is better to hold off. Re-branding is a significant expense and where the ROI may not be felt immediately. On the other hand, if a re-brand is necessary to ward off competitive threats and ensure your firm’s leadership position in the marketplace, re-branding may be necessary to safeguard your position.
2. Focus on Prospects in the Pipe – Marketing dollars will be better spent on nurturing leads in your sales funnel. Driving prospects into your sales funnel is half the battle; developing activities to continue to guide people through the sales process is key to closing to short-term sales.
3. Tried and Tested – For companies that have limited marketing resources, a recession or slow economic period is not the best time to take risks when it comes to your marketing efforts. Assess your program’s performance and continue to maintain those activities that have delivered results.
4. Shift to ‘Soft’ Activities – There are many cost-effective marketing tactics that rely heavily on human rather than financial resources. Tactics such as PR, Email Marketing, SEO are great tactics for building awareness, communicating with contacts and increasing website traffic without a lot of third-party investment.
If your company is faced with having to cut costs, be sure to fully assess the effectiveness of your marketing program before making decisions on cutting tactics or your program altogether.