Whenever there’s an economic crisis or a period of uncertainty, businesses understandably need to assess their overheads and cut back in certain areas to steady the ship and create a viable business model for the future.
Some cutbacks or spending freezes are unavoidable – be it investment in new kit and technology, training, meals out for the team or other luxuries that people can make do without in the short-term until the world settles down again.
The one area where a lot of companies always seem to cut back when they really shouldn’t, is their marketing budget. It’s a bug bear of many marketing professionals and I’m not about to make the following plea for selfish reasons – it is purely from a brand and business perspective, trust me.
Naturally you want your company to thrive and succeed. You can’t account for the world being turned upside down and you certainly don’t appreciate the upheaval it causes.
When things are uncertain, protecting sales and customer loyalty is crucial – fact. Sales come from a positive brand reputation, solid recognition and loyalty to the products or services you provide. The only way you can continue to achieve all of these, no matter what the climate around you looks like, is through good, solid and honest marketing.
People who already know about you and buy from you might keep spending no matter what you do with your marketing but attracting new customers, especially if some of your current customers are forced to stop spending with you, will become incredibly hard if you’re not marketing your business effectively.
If you lower or freeze your marketing budget for any period of time, then you’re cutting off the oxygen supply to your brand – and this can have catastrophic consequences.
Your brand is hungry 365 days a year. It constantly needs feeding with fresh impetus, love and attention. If you turn off your social media ads, pause Google Adwords or you stop producing innovative content to promote your brand through digital or printed materials, then your voice in the marketplace will be silenced. If your brand is silent then how do you expect potential new customers to hear or see you above the competition?
Your brand needs its voice and the only way to ensure its voice is heard is by maintaining your marketing spend. Cutting your marketing budget is only going to result in reduced noise or no noise at all from your brand and the inevitable fallout from this is that your sales are going to plummet.
Sadly, a lot of brands continue to make this same mistake when a crisis comes knocking. Marketing is often seen as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a necessity. HR, sales, finance and other departments are given high value and therefore left alone, with marketing usually the poor relation that has to wait its turn until things are better.
This mindset needs to be flipped so that business owners see their marketing budget as being at the top of the food chain, not the bottom.
It’s amazing how many times companies cut their marketing, witness a drop in sales, and then wonder why the resultant gaping hole in their revenue stream has appeared. It’s not because the world has collectively decided to turn off to your brand, it’s because you’ve turned your brand off to the world.
So I will say it one final time… Step away from the marketing budget people!