A survey out this week from research group Mindmetre found that the number of UK businesses planning to increase their spending on marketing has risen sharply from last year.
Whilst this is not necessarily an indication of business confidence, it is reassuring that companies are prioritising marketing when planning their annual budgets. During difficult economic times, marketing is often one of the causalities of decreased spends, but I believe company directors should think carefully when considering cutting costs.
When times are difficult, it is important to communicate with your potential customers, rather than becoming invisible and risking losing business to competitors.
Here are some tips for making sure your marketing spend goes further during tough times:
· Be strategic in your outlook. Take a step back and consider what your current marketing plans are and whether this needs revisiting. Perhaps advertising is not getting the results you were hoping for and is costing a lot of money. Explore other channels, such as PR, market research, or direct marketing.
· Ask the experts. It may seem expensive to outsource your marketing, but trying to do it all internally may be a risky strategy. Perhaps a PR company or social media agency will help to take your company in a different direction and reach new customers.
· Think about your communications messaging and whether they should be amended to suit the current economic climate. Customers may not want to fritter money on unnecessary luxuries, so ensure the language you are using convinces them that your service, if not a necessity, is an ‘affordable treat’.
· Concentrate on maintaining loyalty. Customers can be fickle, particular during economic hardship, so it is important to remind them why they choose your products or services. A simple reward scheme could be launched to maintain their loyalty, and can be done at minimal cost.
· Don’t forget potential customers. Those that regularly use your competitors will be shopping around for better deals. Perhaps set up an ‘introductory’ offer to lure customers in.
· Evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses and ask them for advice. They may have some great ideas about your marketing plan that have not occurred to you. Employee engagement is essential when times are tough so remember to reward them for their effort.
It may be tempting to make marketing the victim of budget cuts, but being invisible can result in disaster for your business. Remaining front of mind with your current and potential customers is essential, and team morale and loyalty will be built by an increased profile. Ensuring you leave an impression of business confidence will generate confidence in your customers, and you may even come out the other side as a stronger business.
Victoria Harris is an account director at integrated public relations, social media and search agency, Punch Communications. . With nearly a decade of experience, Victoria specialises in media relations, including consumer, corporate, B2B and technology PR. To find out more about Punch and current PR jobs please visit www.punchcomms.com