Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Mastering marketing during turbulent times

By Katie Mannion, Senior Marketing Lead UKI, Pleo

For many marketers, including myself, there’s a general feeling that it’s crunch time. We are navigating economic turmoil, redundancies, and budget cuts. What can change this is a fresh attitude to how we think about marketing. One that turns the challenges facing the business environment today into opportunities.

One way businesses can do this is to think of marketing beyond ‘just another thing in their cost center’. Outside of KPIs, the value of marketing can be hard to measure, but this is often exactly where the magic happens! Marketing is many things and businesses should ensure they can prove, and even show its value with their budget investment. The most important thing for business leaders to remember is good marketing takes time. Many companies think you build it and they come, this is rarely the case! This is why we need to drive demand and showcase the customers who love our products. 

Whether you’re in a recession or on the edge of one, it’s important to appear to the outside world as though everything at your brand is business as usual. A reactive approach to cut as much spending as possible will only guarantee your logo slips from your ideal audience’s minds. If you pause marketing spending for a quarter, you will feel it the next. It’s a guarantee that short-term cuts lead to long-term impact when it comes to hitting your brand’s goals.

So, let’s look at what fresh approach to marketing we can take in today’s climate and how we can do it in a way that stays true to your brand and adds value to your audience.

Rethink your current strategy

During an impending recession, it’s important to be laser-focused on tapping into your core prospects. To do so effectively you should evaluate how each of your marketing channels is performing and reallocate the budget to the areas with the best ROI. Consider your tech stack in this too. With the limitless responsibilities the average marketer will have, it won’t come as a surprise if the amount of apps in your taskbar is giving you a headache! 

Speak to the wider team about the tools you have that can help. You should also place a focus on consolidating your software and reducing costs. Ask yourself, do we need this tool? Try to double down and benefit from the tools you do have and use. For example, I use Notion to plan all marketing activities and keep sales constantly up to date on our initiatives all in an easy-to-read format that is handy for them to find. This saves my team a lot of time and reduces Slack messages about events and inbound leads.

Gifting your customers 

Now more than ever I am investing time and budget into customers. Instead of something that drives customer devotion our way, it’s the opposite – businesses showing more loyalty to them. The foundations of a good company are based on its relationships. At Pleo, we work for our customers and ensure they are happy. We ask so much from our customers – payments, case studies, advice, you name it. Think about how you are repaying them and the value you are adding. 

One way we can keep customers engaged in these tough times is to meet them in person, for example, we launched a Finance Supper Club in London, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Dublin, where forward-thinking finance leaders could come together and try out new culinary experiences.

These aren’t simply tactics to ask for more from customers, but a genuine attempt to make better connections and build relationships with them to make unlocking up-sell or cross-sell opportunities entirely natural. This led to a referral program you didn’t even have to set up. On the bonus side, sitting customers down with the companies you want to work with is the fastest way to create a deal.

Quick-fire lead generation tactics

Referrals are just one example of bringing in new business quickly and effectively. Others include event sponsorships, changing your digital ad strategy, and one low-cost, and often overlooked, way to engage prospects – a webinar.

Webinars can be truly impactful but only if there is a clearly defined goal with clear messaging. Also, remember that your target audience will be receiving webinar invites from the masses, so make sure yours is about something that adds value to your customers and prospects, instead of noise to the media landscape.

Attendance for webinars can be tricky, but this is why responsibility needs to be shared between sales and marketing. You’re not looking for big numbers to impress (well, not just that) – you’re making sure those who attend are quality prospects and that engagement and conversion are likely. To this end, ensure you’ve got your follow-ups down, whether email nurtures, workflow sequences, demos, or more.  Once you’ve got prospects in your funnel it’s a wasted opportunity not to nurture and educate them. Whether in a downturn or not, every lead matters! 

Turning a downturn into an upturn

By taking a beat and being less reactive, you can ensure you will come out of this downturn with leaner, more thoughtful marketing in place. This will boost marketing performance and raise marketing’s contribution to your business’s growth during a tricky time. 

And one additional thing for marketers to remember – don’t forget to market yourself! As much as you expect your results to jump off the dashboard, don’t leave things to chance. Show your leadership team the meetings in the diary, the leads qualified, customer stories, and feedback on the events and experiences you and your team have created. It’s no small thing – so don’t let it go unnoticed.