The economic fallout from the recent Brexit vote has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the UK construction and manufacturing industries. It is not the time to start making snap decisions in budget-cutting exercises, particularly for marketing activities, explains Chris Ashton of Time Marketing.
As the director of a marketing agency it is easy for me to say that, but there is a clear reason behind it. In times of uncertainty, customers don’t stop spending money. They simply spend it more wisely. Their thought processes change in purchasing decisions, and they become much more value orientated. They flex their bargaining powers and are more likely to switch brands if a competitor offers more value for money.
Rather than simply cutting all or most of your marketing budget to reduce company overheads, take a little time to think about each marketing activity and realise the value that it may, or may not, bring to your company. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in marketing, different activities work for different companies. It is about balance, efficiency and getting the most from your budget.
Get to know your customers
This is a hugely important task and something that you should spend some time on. In order for you to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, you need some clarity of what your customers think of you, their purchasing behaviour, their expectations of doing business with you, and importantly, how they are responding to the Brexit.
If a new customer buys a product or service from you ask them how they found you, and what made them buy from you? Have they seen one of your adverts in a trade magazine, a press release you featured, did they receive an emailshot, was it word of mouth, or something else? This information can help you to determine exactly which marketing channels are bringing in the customers, which then helps you to make a more informed decision as to how to spend your marketing budget more effectively to increase your return on investment and have a positive effect on sales.
Research your competitors
By carrying out a competitor analysis it will give you a good understanding of their reactions to the current economic situation, and their marketing activities. It is well documented that brands that maintain or increase their marketing budget within times of recession improve their market share, increase sales and return on investment, and also increase their levels of brand loyalty. This is because their adverts or press releases are more noticeable in a less crowded marketplace. Companies that cut their marketing budget without careful consideration risk losing market share and brand loyalty. So when the market recovers and overall spending increases again, they will have lost their core customers.
It is also useful to see what channels competitors use for their marketing campaigns, for example which industry magazines they use, if they use social media, if they feature high up in natural search engine rankings, use online advertising mediums such as Google Adwords (other pay per click advertisers are available) or re-targeting techniques such as Adsense. Digital marketing techniques are comprehensive nowadays so you will be able to determine approximate return on investment costs before you embark on a campaign, enabling you to see whether a campaign is worth investing in.
Get the most from your budget
There are many more factors to consider when setting a marketing strategy in times of economic uncertainty, but if there is one thing you take from this it is to think carefully about how you distribute your marketing budget. Spend budget on the channels and activities that will bring you a good level of return and will have a positive effect on sales, and reduce or cut budget for activities that won’t bring any financial gain or brand benefits to your business.
Finally, be clear and consistent with your brand message. Emotions are key to a brand’s strength – campaigns that focus on emotional engagement (e.g. how your product can help your customer and solve a problem for them) tend to perform better and achieve a greater return on investment than rational messages (e.g. low prices or short term offers).
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