The coronavirus pandemic has many of us looking at our expenses in an attempt to tighten the belt. Companies across all industries are feeling the effects and dialing back spending for non-essential expenses.
Naturally, when the public at large stops spending money so readily, marketing is one of those areas that tends to take a hit. There is a logic to it. Marketing is a long-term investment, particularly in B2B sales with long sales cycles. It can take months to take a prospect from the point of being vaguely aware of your company to being ready to invest in your solution.
It makes sense that many companies would shift their budget toward selling initiatives, where the impact of their budget is felt more immediately. But does doing so put them behind, long-term? I think so.
The fact of the matter is that during an economy there definitely are certain marketing activities that you may want to pull your budget away from, or change your strategy for, depending on your industry.
For instance, if people aren’t buying what you are selling, it might be a good idea to pause some of your ad campaigns until things pick up. Or at least take a look at the strategy that you are employing so that you are sure you aren’t coming across as tone-deaf, given the situation.
But there are other areas of your marketing strategy where it may actually be beneficial to double down on during hard times. One of those is content and inbound marketing.
Let’s talk about why that is.
Lay the Groundwork for the Future
The internet and its benefits will be here long after the coronavirus pandemic or the following recession end. That is true for any economic downturn.
Until there is a major shift in technology, the internet will be one of the primary ways that people connect with companies and brands. As long as the internet exists in its current state, users will need a way to search for information among billions of websites.
While other companies in your industry are downscaling their inbound marketing, that presents you with an opportunity to get ahead.
The work that you do not will benefit your business for years to come. If you are just getting started, downtimes are the perfect time to lay your “groundwork content.” If you have been investing in inbound marketing for some time, now is a great time to ramp up and start producing more.
You must look at inbound marketing content as the full-funnel strategy that it is to lay a solid groundwork for the future. You should be creating content assets that help in all stages, from awareness to post-sale support, to ensure that you are serving your audience.
Better Experiences, Better Customers
One often overlooked benefit of inbound marketing that makes it particularly impactful during economic downtimes is the fact that better content leads to better experiences, and therefore better customers.
Great content serves your customers throughout the buying experience. Having the right content to walk them through the process of learning about your products and solutions, sell to them, then to help them get the most out of them once they have made the purchase creates loyal long-term customers.
A recession is a great time to take a second look at how we are serving our current customers, and inbound marketing and content is a low-hanging fruit for quickly improving the customer experience. When you have more information available, customers have to ask fewer questions, receive less help from support, and generally feel more informed throughout the process.
A Time for Testing New Things
Marketing and sales strategies can look very different between boom and bust economic times. What worked for you before may not work for you now. With no discernable way to know how long the pandemic will impact the economy on a macro scale, you must begin to test new strategies to get you through the duration.
Focus on a Full-Funnel Approach
Inbound marketing is a great investment. While most believe that inbound marketing relies primarily on SEO and therefore can take many months to begin to show the first signs of working, the truth is that when you produce bottom-of-the-funnel content, the effects can often be felt right away.
Sales-oriented content begins making an impact as soon as it is published and utilized.
Try producing content that answers common questions that people have throughout the sales process. Or common objections that your sales team runs into during the selling process. These are long-term investments that also have an immediate impact on your ability to close sales and provide better experiences to prospects and customers.
Source: Raka Creative
An Opportunity to Expand Market Share
Whether you are a big national company or a small local business, there is a good chance that in an economic downturn that there will be additional market share opening up as companies shutter their doors and close operations. If you are in a position to survive, you want to make sure that you position yourself to fill that void when things begin to turn back around.
A great way to connect with customers that were once loyal to your competition is to win them over through valuable content. Touch on the problems that they are facing and position your company as the solution to those problems.
Spending this time winning the hearts and minds of those that are left in the wind without a preferred provider of a product or service can be a great way to spend your energy while things are slow.
A Positive Outlook Goes A Long Way
Naturally, many companies try to respond to an economic downturn by hunkering down and waiting things out. They lay off staff. They slash their marketing and sales budgets. They tighten the belt anywhere and everywhere that they can.
And some of those decisions are a necessity and unavoidable.
But it is important to not see everything in such a negative light. In every situation, there are opportunities — even if those opportunities are simply preparing yourself to rebound well when the economy begins to turn around. In some areas, now is the time to begin ramping up investment as your budgets are frozen in other areas of your business. I would argue that inbound marketing is a natural choice.