Marketing During Tough Times: What to Prioritise


When the economy takes a downturn, no matter how big or small, marketing is often one of the first areas to face budget cuts. However, reducing marketing activities may not be the best strategy... so what should you be doing?

Senior Marketing Manager
December 13, 2023
  (NZDT - GMT +12)

It seems like marketing is the most obvious place to tighten the belt, but companies that continue to invest in marketing during tough economic times can emerge stronger and more resilient than their competitors.

Here are some priorities, strategies, and considerations for marketing during tough times:

Prioritise Existing Customers

When the economy takes a downturn, it’s more important than ever to focus on retaining existing customers. Repeat customers are a source of steady revenue and can help to stabilise cash flow. They know you, they know your product or service, they know how you operate, and in times of uncertainty everyone likes to stick to things they know. To retain existing customers, consider offering loyalty programs, discounts, or other incentives that demonstrate how much you appreciate them.

Optimise Your Marketing Spend

When the economy is wobbly, it’s essential to make every marketing dollar count. Be strategic about how you allocate your budget, focusing on the channels and tactics that are most likely to drive results (and where you can track and measure in order to provide reporting). If you’re stripping back your marketing efforts, consider investing in the most cost-effective digital marketing channels like email, search, social media, and content marketing, which can provide a high return on investment.

Communicate Value Propositions

In uncertain times consumers are more cost-conscious and are looking for value. Make sure your marketing messages communicate the value of your products or services upfront and centre. Highlight how your offerings can save customers money, time, or effort, as often they will be looking for ways to reduce and save. If you can clearly communicate how you provide unique value in a crowded market, you’re more likely to stand out and capture the attention of potential customers.

Focus on Long-Term Goals

It’s easy to get caught up in short-term thinking during tough economic times, and things start to feel a little bit frantic. However, it’s important to keep your long-term marketing goals in mind. Consider how your current marketing efforts can position your brand for future growth and success. Invest in building your brand reputation – this can be done simply by improving customer experiences, and creating content that will resonate with your audience. By doing these things you’ll earn a place in the hearts and minds of customers and they’ll continue to be your advocates.

Consider External Resourcing

When everyone is tightening the belt, it can be challenging to justify hiring new employees or expanding your marketing team. In fact, often the marketing team is the first one to be reduced. However, outsourcing marketing tasks to external parties can be a cost-effective way to maintain marketing efforts without incurring the overhead costs of full-time employees. External resources can bring fresh perspectives, specialised expertise, and a flexible workforce to your marketing efforts (how convenient, that’s what we do!)

Marketing during tough economic times requires a focus on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and long-term goals. By prioritising existing customers, optimising marketing spend, communicating value propositions, focusing on long-term goals, and considering external resourcing, you can weather the storm and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before. You've got this.

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