In today’s fast-paced business world, the market can change in a flash. (Hello, February 2020!?)
Economic ups and downs, new trends, and worldwide events can make things uncertain. And, during these times, businesses might stop or cut back on their marketing.
We understand where these businesses are coming from. It can be scary to spend when the economy isn’t stable.
But when things look bleak, should you pump the breaks on spending? Or is that when smart marketing is most needed? This blog will help you decide just how to use marketing to get through uncertain markets so you come out strong on the other side.
Should You Keep Marketing in Shaky Markets?
When the market is unsure, we often see businesses respond by spending less on marketing. Or stop altogether. This might seem like a good way to save money, but it can hurt your business in the long run.
Think of each dollar or hour you put into marketing as an investment. Each blog post, brand message, or SEO improvement is like adding money to your ‘marketing 401K’.
Over time, these investments compound, attracting more customers and building your reputation, just like the interest in a 401K builds your retirement fund.
And remember, just like with a 401K, the key to successful marketing is consistent, long-term investment.
Marketing during an economic downturn helps keep your business in the public eye, keeps your current customers engaged, and gets your business ready for growth when things become stable again.
By maintaining at least some of your marketing efforts, you can stand out from competitors who have pulled back or stopped. You can grab a larger share of the market and come out stronger after the crisis. Your “marketing 401k” is still going strong.
But, if you need to scale your marketing budget back, which marketing tactics should you prioritize? And, how do you decide?
How to Use Marketing to Get Through Unpredictable Markets
1. Use Data to Guide You
In shaky markets, data is your best ally.
Use real-time analytics to track how your customers behave, what the market trends are, and how well your marketing campaigns are doing.
Sales figures are generally a direct indicator of customer preferences and market trends. But, other useful metrics to consider include the number of ‘add-to-cart’ clicks on your website. If many customers are adding items to their cart but not finalizing the purchase, it may indicate potential issues with your checkout process or pricing structure.
Likewise, keeping track of lead form submissions can give you an idea of how effective your lead generation efforts are and whether they need to be tweaked.
To understand broader market trends, consider using analytics tools like Google Trends. This site provides insights into what your target audience is interested in and how those interests change over time.
For instance, if you notice a sudden increase in online searches for mens facial hair styles, it might indicate a growing demand for a product that you offer, like a high-end electric shaver – a product popular among many men. This is an opportunity you can seize to boost your sales and market presence.
Remember, the key here is not just to collect data but to use it strategically. By continuously monitoring these metrics, you can adapt your strategies to changing market conditions, helping your business stay resilient and competitive. In unpredictable markets, your ability to quickly pivot and adapt based on data is what will set you apart from the rest.
2. Keep in Touch and Reassure Your Customers
During uncertain times, customers look for reassurance and connection.
Keep communicating with your audience, even if you slow down the pace. Share updates about your business, answer their concerns, and show understanding to build trust and strengthen relationships.
3. Be Quick and Ready to Change
In tough markets, being able to change your plans fast is very important. This means making quick decisions, but also making sure they’re based on the latest data and what your customers are saying.
For example, if data shows that a certain marketing campaign isn’t working well, you should be ready to make changes fast.
This could mean changing the message or how you’re getting it out there.
Keeping in touch with your customers can also give you useful information about what they need and want. By being quick to adapt and respond, you can take market uncertainty and turn it into chances for your business to grow and do well.
4. Try New Things and Experiment
Unpredictable markets often lead to new needs and behaviors from consumers.
New needs and behaviors open up chances for trying new things. Test new marketing methods, try different channels, and experiment with your messaging. This not only helps meet your customers’ changing needs but also keeps your marketing fresh and relevant.
I can’t tell you exactly what marketing channels you should keep vs discontinue in times of trouble. That all depends on your target audience, your data, your goals, and your business and marketing strategy. But here are some guidelines based on my experience:
The Marketing Tactics to Prioritize (or Drop) During Unpredictable Markets
Social Media Marketing – An Essential Tool
When times are tough economically, people turn to social media for connection and engagement. This means that putting resources into social media marketing can have big payoffs.
Creating tailored content, running interactive campaigns, and providing quick customer service on social platforms can strengthen people’s loyalty to your brand and keep your audience interested.
Content Marketing – A Valuable Asset
When markets get shaky, good content (like blogs, video, podcasts, and other media) becomes increasingly important. Customers are looking for information they can trust, advice, and comfort.
Content marketing helps build that trust and makes people loyal to your brand. By giving customers useful, relevant, and interesting content, businesses can keep a strong relationship with their audience and become a reliable source of information.
If you make your content SEO-friendly (see below for definition), it will be easier for people to find your brand online, making sure your brand stays visible and accessible.
SEO – The Silent Achiever
Email Marketing – An Underestimated Champion
Email marketing is often overlooked, but it’s one of the cheapest and most direct ways to talk to customers.
Sending personalized emails that offer value, help, and solutions can make customers more loyal and encourage them to buy, making it a good investment when the market is down.
Traditional Advertising – Potential for Reduction
Older ways of advertising, like print, radio, and TV ads, can be good but they can also cost a lot. And when times are tough, it’s harder to measure if they’re effective.
Cutting back on these types of ads can be a smart way to save money. Instead, focus on online advertising. It lets you connect directly with the people you want to reach, see how your ads are doing, and change your plans on the spot (which is cost-effective).
Influencer Collaborations – Exercise Discretion
Using influencers to market your business can be helpful or it can cost a lot, depending on how you do it. Micro-influencers, who have a small but engaged following, can be a cheaper choice.
When the economy is doing poorly, focus on teaming up with influencers in a real and value-focused way, instead of spending a lot on famous influencers who charge more.
Getting through tough times in the market means having a smart plan.
And a smart plan can mean making it through and finding ways to grow, too. Smart marketing includes using data, staying close to customers, being quick and trying new things during times of market uncertainty.
These can turn your marketing from “just a cost” into a key tool for keeping and growing your brand when the economic climate is uncertain.
It’s important to focus on giving value, building relationships, and making sure every penny of your marketing spend is used wisely. This way, even when the market is hard to predict, your business is not just surviving but preparing for future success.