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Tips on Marketing During a Recession

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In one of the most obvious examples of cause-and-effect in finance, the UK has entered a recession immediately after the coronavirus lockdown forced thousands of businesses to close.

The economy shrank 20.4% and household spending plunged as shops were ordered to close and millions of workers were furloughed or fired, making almost everyone worse off.

As the UK economy has suffered two consecutive quarters of economic decline, we are now officially in the first recession since 2009. In the words of shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, “A downturn was inevitable after lockdown,” but what does this mean for us?

Consumers will be more cautious and stingier when it comes to purchases, as they are less certain of where their next payslip will be coming from. Reassuring the customer and convincing them that your product or service is ‘the safe bet’ is a vital ingredient of marketing in uncertain times like a recession.

Value brands are sure to see continued demand (or potentially increased demand as more people seek out budget options), but things are less certain for other market segments. When planning your marketing strategy for the coming year, it may seem tough to commit, but here are eight principles that will help you to make an effective strategy for even the most uncertain times:

1. Research the Customer

Instead of cutting market research, you need to know how consumers are responding to the recession and – most importantly – how they are defining value. In trying times, customers will be harder to win over as they are less willing to splash out on luxuries and more likely to trade, down, buy less or postpone purchases until a sale or their next payday.

In times where you can’t afford to make mistakes, the ability to make an informed decision is more important than ever.

2. Focus on Common Values

Between the economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of another government lockdown, people have a lot on their plate, so keep your advertising nice and comforting. Avoid zany humour, appeals based on fear or images of extreme sports and exotic locales so that your marketing can resonate with a wider audience.

3. Keep Up Marketing Spending

Brands which increase advertising during a recession when their competitors cut back can increase their market share and see better return on investment than in a strong economy. In times of uncertainty, familiar brands will seem even more inviting to consumers, and with lockdowns corresponding to greater media consumption, a captive audience is more likely than ever.

4. Adjust your Product Portfolios

Tough times favour versatile, budget products over specialised, gimmicky or premium items, and so should your product portfolio. By focussing mainly on products and services that stress good value, you can address the new consumer reality and phase out products that are less competitive over time.

5. Support Your Distributors/Suppliers

In uncertain times, many distributors and suppliers are unwilling to keep more stock than they need in the short-term or regularly carry newer/rarer products. By offering incentives like extended financing, generous return policies or early-buy allowances, you can motivate distributors to stock more of your products more of the time, improving relations and supply.

6. Adjust Pricing Tactics

As more customers will be hunting for the best deals, you should work hard to stay competitive, but this doesn’t always mean cutting prices. By extending price promotions, extend credit to loyal customers or price smaller pack sizes more aggressively, you stand a better chance of keeping repeat customers and attracting new ones.

7. Emphasise Your Core Values

While most companies will make at least some of their staff redundant during a recession, you can help to cement the loyalty of your remaining staff by emphasising core values. Assuring your team that the company has survived difficult times before, focussing on delivering quality products and working to retain loyal customers will all help to foster esprit de corps, or company loyalty.

While the financial forecast might be doom and gloom for the next few quarters, you shouldn’t be afraid to double-down on your company’s Unique Selling Point and increase marketing to increase your market share. Sure, you might have to trim the fat on your annual budget or cut staff, but if you work hard and tighten your belt, you might just come out of the recession a lean, mean profit-making machine!

If you’re unsure of the best marketing tactics or want some advice on how to adapt your strategies to the modern age, why not read some of our other educational blogs or get in touch today?

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably curious about how businesses can effectively market themselves on social media platforms or you might have dipped your toe into social media marketing already.

No matter your skill level or the size of your business, we hope to teach you something new when it comes to the benefits of social media and how to make it work for your brand.

There are now more than 3 billion people using social media platforms all around the world, meaning that social media has the largest potential audience of any advertising channel. What’s more, a significant portion of these social media users are engaging with brands, with approximately 80% of Instagram users following at least one business.

If you’re not already marketing to the massive, engaged audiences online, you’re missing out on the many advantages that social media marketing (or SMM) has to offer. Without further ado, let’s dive into how Social Media Marketing can benefit your brand and business:

The Benefits for Brand Building:

1. Increased Brand Awareness

As nearly half the world’s population is using social media, it’s a natural place to reach new and highly targeted potential customers. Many users say that they discover new products through social media, so promoting your brand through these channels will help to increase brand awareness in ways that just aren’t possible with other methods.

For example, many platforms like Facebook allow you to create posts that target certain users (such as males aged 18-40 interested in cooking) for greater engagement. This allows you to tweak your online presence and grow your audience by reaching out to your target demographic.

2. SMM Humanises your Brand

Many adults do not fully trust a brand until they see ‘real-world proof’ that the brand is keeping its promises. From your brand values to your mission statement(s), consumers want to see that you’re putting your money where your mouth is.

Whatever your brand identity and values, you should take the opportunity to show off why your brand is special and make a connection with your audience. For example, you could host Q&A sessions, highlight company initiatives or promote a social media advocacy program (where other users promote your brand) to make that human connection.

3. You Can Establish Yourself as an Authority

No matter your industry, social media offers a wealth of opportunities to establish your brand as a voice of authority and a go-to source of information related to your niche or service. By sharing knowledge through product demos, guides and more, you can gain the trust of other businesses and consumers as well as increasing engagement through readership.

Publishing informative content regularly may seem like a daunting task, but you can space out articles and share content from other reputable sources to promote engagement. This kind of content is very common on LinkedIn, where professionals of all stripes share content related to their line of work, pooling knowledge, and showing off their expertise.

4. Get People Thinking About You

Most social media users log into their accounts at least once a day, and many users will check their accounts multiple times a day, giving you the chance to reach a wide audience often. If you can share the kind of content that users find entertaining or informative, then they will be glad to see your content and will think of your company more positively as a result.

However, it’s important not to be overbearing, so be aware of what kind of content you post and when: Avoid posting adverts or promotional content all the time, and try to keep things varied with informative, entertaining and visually interesting content to keep your audience interested.

Benefits of social media for growth:

5. Increase Your Website Traffic

Posting and advertising on social media platforms are great ways to drive traffic to your website, whether you’re posting an informative article or promoting a new deal. Participating in chats or hosting events like interviews and AMAs (Ask Me Anything) help to increase your visibility, showcase your expertise and reach new audiences, all while driving traffic to your site.

Keep in mind that you need to offer value to win people over, and you’ll attract people that are genuinely interested in what you have to say, your products or (hopefully) both! With a few simple tricks like including a link to your site in your profile, every click on your posts contributes to increased traffic to your site.

6. Generate Leads

Social media platforms offer easy, low-commitment ways for users to express interest in your business and products, from sharing an aesthetic picture to following your account. This naturally leads to improved lead generation, as many platforms offer ways to contact or log users that have engaged with your content.

For example, Facebook offers lead adverts which have form functionality within the Facebook website and app, allowing users to book a test drive, for example, in just a few clicks. By streamlining the sales funnel and promoting yourself on social media, you make it easier – and therefore more likely – for users to buy your products or services.

7. Boost Sales

Whatever kind of business you own, social media marketing can help you boost sales and optimise your sales funnel – transforming new contacts into customers better than before. As the number of people using social media continues to grow and sales tool evolve, social media platforms are becoming an increasingly important part of many businesses’ marketing strategies.

For smaller businesses and sole traders, social selling is an ever-powerful sales tool, based on making personal connections to sell products with a more intimate touch. For larger businesses, however, the ability to reach out to more customers more directly is still invaluable for increasing sales.

8. Team Up With Influencers

Despite all the technological advances of social media, the old adage “people buy from people” still rings true, and recommendations are far more likely to convince people than adverts. When people are talking (positively) about your product and/or company online, you gain credibility, brand awareness and exposure.

One way to encourage conversation is by teaming up with influencers – people who have large followings online that often promote or discuss brands and products. These influencers will help to promote your products through recommendations, product demos and more, while their (often highly engaged) audience does the rest.

Benefits of social media for content creation and distribution:

9. Promote Your Content

By promoting your content (such as blogs, videos, guides, etc.) on social media platforms, you can present your polished content to a wider audience. This helps you prove your expertise and attract new followers who are interested in your content, growing your audience.

What’s more, you can always repost older content, adding value to older blogs and instructional content such as product guides whilst driving traffic to your site with embedded links, etc. If you already have content and resources on your site, try sharing links on your social media account to get more views and clicks – what do you have to lose?

10. Go Viral

Social media platforms are unique in that they offer potentially exponential exposure: As users engage with your content – liking, sharing, commenting, etc. – their followers and friends will see your content too, meaning that a post shared by one person can reach 10 more, and so on.

All this exposure comes with the bonus that it is practically word-of-mouth advertising, as each share comes from someone with friends who thought it worth sharing. While ‘going viral’ is no mean feat, the potential for exposure inherent on most social media platforms mean that you shouldn’t overlook this strategy.

11. Source Content

As well as promoting your products and brand, social media offers unprecedented opportunities to source content for yourself by:

  • Sourcing Ideas – By listening to your followers and wider discussions online, you can find out what kind of content your target audience likes and easily learn what your followers want.
  • Sourcing Material – By organising a hashtag or competition, you can source user-generated content (or UGC) which increases engagement and brand connections whilst creating a library of content, when done well.

Benefits of social media for communication:

12. Manage Your Reputation

Your customers are probably talking about you online, whether you’re a part of that conversation or not, so you should do your best to monitor and direct these interactions. With a little oversight, you and your team can highlight positive comments and address negativity before it turns into a major issue.

If someone is spreading disinformation about your brand, it’s best to promptly and politely correct them with your side of the story, which is harder to do if you’re not on social media. Similarly, it’s harder to reach out to positive customers and highlight praise if you’re not on the same platforms as your customers, so sign up and direct conversations about your brand now.

13. Neutralise PR Crises

Everybody makes mistakes, but what we do in the aftermath can make all the difference, especially when it comes to a crisis that could damage your reputation. Does your company have a clear plan for dealing with a crisis, and how quickly can you respond?

Silence is not an option when it comes to crises on social media, so make sure that you have a strategy for dealing with controversies or grievances quickly and appropriately. Maintaining a well-managed social media account and putting plans in place will help you stay on top of things, even if the unthinkable happens.

14. Engage with Your Customers and Audience

More than any other communication channel, social media allows you to directly interact with customers and vice-versa. Customers can ask you questions about your products, fans can share content and you’re free to engage with your audience by holding polls, promoting new product ranges and more.

What’s more, by monitoring wider conversations – on your industry, opinions on types of products you sell, etc. – you can gain valuable insights for free. By interacting directly with your audience and customer base, you get the kind of first-hand interactions that are invaluable in gauging customer behaviour and more.

15. Offer Quick Customer Service and Support

Social media is more than just a place to post your latest adverts, as users often expect brands be available online, responding to queries and complaints. A quick and helpful response to an online query will help to make a positive impression with customers, even when responding to a flat-out complaint.

Customers that receive a quick response to their message are more likely to spend time with your brand online or when considering a purchase, so responding to those unsolicited messages can really pay off.

Benefits of social media for gaining insights:

16. Learn More About Your Customers

Social media provides an unprecedented amount of information as your customers post everything from their buying habits and political opinions to what they had for lunch in real time. The question then, is how to filter and process this information so that you can tailor your strategy for your target audience and make informed marketing decisions in the future.

17. Gauge Sentiment Around Your Brand

It’s been said that “there is no such thing as bad publicity” but whoever coined that phrase that never had to worry about managing a brand’s reputation on social media. If you’re getting lots of mentions or messages with negative content, then you need to get to the bottom of the issue quickly to address the problem before it becomes a crisis situation.

While it is always important to know how many people are talking about your brand online, you need to monitor how people feel about your brand. By actively monitoring your social media presence and any posts mentioning your brand, product or services, you can keep an eye on how you’re regarded online and protect your brand reputation.

18. Keep an Eye on the Competition

As well as keeping an eye on how customers feel about you and your products/services, social media allows you to see how your competitors are regarded. By reading conversations about your competitors, you may be able to reveal some pain points which you could address, winning a new customer or two in the process.

For example, if your competitor is hosting a big publicity event that goes wrong, you could identify the problem through social media and try to one-up them. Now, all the consumers that were unhappy with your competitor are happy with you, making for powerful publicity and customer acquisition.

19. Stay on Top of Industry News

Things move fast in the online world and keeping up with the latest changes in trends and policies is key, especially where they offer new opportunities or restrictions. By monitoring news outlets and industry experts online, you’ll always be informed about changes to your industry that could affect how you do business.

Benefits of social media for advertising:

20. Targeted Advertising

Social media adverts are a cheap and effective way to promote your business which feature a wide array of settings and options to target certain audiences. In marketing, the ability to target your audience with tailored content and adverts is invaluable.

Adverts on social media can be tweaked to target users based on location, interests and certain demographic information (age, sex, etc.), allowing you to communicate with your target demographic with ease.

21. Retargeting

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, involves reaching out to potential customers that have already been in contact with your business online. One common example of this is businesses contacting potential customers that have browsed online shops but left before placing the order, so they can try and seal the deal.

If you’re able to successfully retarget potential customers that have come close to making a purchase, you’ll find it much easier to covert those leads into sales. With all the tools available on social media platforms, it’s easier than ever to reach the ones who get away.

Benefits of social media for proving ROI

22. Reporting and Analytics

Measuring and proving a Return On Investment is always challenging for marketers, but social media offer a variety of tracking and analytics tools. With these integrated tools, you can see the full impact of your social media activities, from followers to post engagement all the way through to purchases, provided you have the right tracking features.

With better tracking tools, and more detailed data, it’s easier than ever to calculate return on investment from social media marketing campaigns. And with better insights, you can focus on successful tactics and enhance your marketing strategy.

I hope we haven’t oversold the potential of Social Media Marketing, but there really is nothing like it for reaching your target audience, having real conversations with fans and boosting sales. To learn more about the intricacies of SMM, targeted adverts and all the tricks of the trade, why not scan our other blogs on the topic or send us a DM today?

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