How B2B Marketers Show Their Value in a Down Economy
It’s hard enough to be a marketer, even when things are going well. The true test comes when entire shifts are happening in the world that negatively impacts buying behavior.
Whether you are bracing for an economic downturn or braving your way through a recession, chances are good that B2B marketers are still going to be expected to show their value.
A marketer’s job is never done. When companies don’t have as much money to throw around, marketers can feel like they’re operating inside a pressure cooker.
It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, though. It’s possible to weather these economic storms and come out the other side unscathed or farther ahead than expected.
The key is to keep cool, strap on your marketer superhero cape, and build out strategies that just may surprise you with their results.
Be Data Driven to Measure Everything You Do
Economists and CEOs are already predicting and preparing for a recession as VCs pull back the reins on funding and organizations cut back on costs and their teams.
With talk about the looming black cloud of economic turmoil, we seem to only be scratching the surface. But what is this downturn and what does it mean for B2B marketers?
It’s not fun to be staring down economic uncertainty. We’re seeing companies make changes and shift operations. People have less money to spend, businesses are selling less, and budgets are being sliced by 40 to 60 percent across the board.
With the average recession historically lasting 10 to 18 months, unfortunately, marketing is usually one of the first areas where leadership makes cuts to budget and resources. If you can’t clearly show how the marketing you’re doing is creating more sales than if you were doing no marketing at all, you can expect to get snipped.
Nearly everything you spend in a downturn should have a clear return on investment. This means investing time and resources into systems and processes that allow you to precisely measure everything you do.
There’s no need to hit the panic button if you’re a good data-driven marketing organization. Likely you're already running a process where the numbers are telling you when to make adjustments and change the course you’re on. It also means your company is experimenting and tracking what you’re doing down to revenue and the return from those activities. Using that data from the feedback loop to make real-time decisions is key.
3 Strategies for Being the Best B2B Marketer You Can Be in a Down Economy
Adversity can really drive innovation and creativity. The best marketers are well positioned to handle macroeconomic volatility when they can demonstrate their value in a downturn and show their impact on pipeline and revenue. If you’re getting your dollars and resources trimmed back, try these strategies:
Don’t freak out. It’s uncomfortable to be in a recession, so a knee-jerk reaction is often the go-to response. This is not the answer. It only adds to the panic and fuels the negativity that’s already out there. It also makes it hard to make constructive decisions that’ll get you out in good shape at the other end of the recession.
Instead, go into planning mode for different scenarios, objectively weighing your choices and trying as much as possible to stay level through it all. When you're clear-headed, you can look at numbers and let the data tell you when marketing is no longer as efficient as it should be.
The companies who don’t make knee-jerk reactions are positioned well to catapult out of tough times because everyone around them is pulling back, which creates more space in the areas you’re advertising in to get in front of the right people at a lower cost. Chances are not only will your marketing performance get better, but you’ll also come out leaner.
Pay attention to your messaging. Don’t be tone-deaf. The bottom line is that you’re asking people in the middle of a recession to part with money. Understand how your audience is being impacted by it and be thoughtful with your approach. Be transparent and aware of what’s going on.
Maybe that means pulling back on promising high growth and focusing more on showing how their investment will go a long way with your offering and, in turn, improve efficiency.
In the end, you’ll be more relatable because your messaging says you’re in it with them. That touch of empathy in your messaging is important because it’s exactly what your audience needs when things get unsteady.
Don’t flake out on your commitments. With less budget and resources, it’s easy to see an economic downturn as an opportunity to duck out of some of your bigger commitments.
Marketers are guilty of doing way too much. Even if you over-commit to multiple things, prioritize the ones that actually matter to hitting targets, and de-prioritize the things that are more busy work. You don’t want to be stuck putting 130 percent into mundane tasks that won’t pay off.
You’re probably not expected to hit high numbers with a limited budget anyway, so look at it as a free pass. Use it as an opportunity to try new things and see where it takes you. You’ll show leadership that you’re committed to the cause—building the company—and not just being an employee.
Stay Calm and Market On
Remember, cooler heads prevail. Reacting too much is not an effective way to approach an economic downturn. At the same time, don’t ignore the struggles your audience is facing; dive in with them and shift your messaging to show how you can help.
Home in on the important commitments you have lined up, and don’t be afraid to adjust the blueprint as you go. Then you’ll have the skills and momentum you’ll need to catch whatever the world throws at us next.
Jason Widup is vice president of marketing at Metadata.io, a company dedicated to freeing B2B marketers from technical, mundane, and repetitive tasks through automation of paid campaigns. Widup is an experienced marketing operations and technology leader focused on developing high-perfoming teams through empowerment, challenging experiences, and trust. Widup's experience includes stints at companies such as Workfront, Tableau Software, Getty Images, and Microsoft. Prior to joining Metadata.io, he served as vice president of search marketing and operations at Workfront. He also was vice president of marketing sperations at Tableau.