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2023 Playbook: Lessons From the Recession Part 2 of 3

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July 14th, 2021 by

Ben Dandurand

2023 Playbook: Lessons From the Recession Part 2 of 3

In Part 1 we discussed our findings from McKinsey and covered how we can apply lessons from past recessions to help thrive in times of economic uncertainty. If you missed it, you can access it here.

Part 2

Budget cuts and performance marketing are on every CFO and CMOs mind right now. The most difficult part of navigating tough times is doing more with less. Companies face more pressure than ever to justify their spending, find ways to save money, and prove they’re providing value. Our goal is to help every department get what they want and need while still delivering results.

While the focus of this article is for our CMOs out there, we’re confident the strategy discussed will keep our CFO friends happy as well.

Create meaningful connections with customers

This is always a challenge, but crucial during a recession. There isn’t much budget allocated to awareness campaigns, so retaining customers and creating relationships is more important than ever. Digital marketing is an overcrowded and segmented space. It’s becoming easier for users to ignore messaging and send your brand into the gray. In order for companies to succeed they need to focus on the following:

  • Shift your strategies from broad reach to pinpoint targeting and deliver original and meaningful content to specific pain points, or as we like to call it “hair-on-fire” problems.
  • Ensure your digital experience is seamless across all channels so customers can convert anywhere in the funnel on any device. An incoherent experience across channels is a conversion killer for omni-channel marketing strategies. 
  • Lastly, focus on lead nurturing strategies that meet your customers throughout the sales funnel. Make sure your steps and departments aren’t siloed and are communicating to deliver a clear and consistent message to your audience throughout their journey.

For the majority of companies, this doesn’t have to be a difficult procedure. Oftentimes it can be as simple as asking or interviewing your best, or worst, customers to see what you got right, and where you fell short. Utilizing your sales and customer service teams can be a great resource for getting in tune with your customer's wants and needs.

Utilize Big Data in your marketing funnels

Gone are the ways of building 50 pay-per-click campaigns all targeting different and “identical” match keywords throughout the funnel. Big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence can out-think and perform our marketing instincts.

Utilize the power of big data to target your audience, and focus your efforts on creating meaningful content that speaks directly to your audience. Let the machines help you deliver. 

However, it’s important to remember that AI and algorithms are learning “robots”. They are only as good as the data we give them. Garbage in, garbage out. It’s imperative you’re setting up your marketing campaigns with a feedback loop to identify what information and behavior is the most valuable to achieve your goals.

Team building

Finding and retaining a talented and trustworthy team can be challenging. A marketing team that can adapt, change direction, and mobilizes at the drop of the hat can be your greatest asset in tough times. If you're struggling to put this team together, then outsourcing skills to an agency can be a way to save time and money, while keeping essential functions in-house.

This method can still yield positive results while gaining access to agencies with specialized knowledge and still taking credit for the success in-house. Additionally, this strategy enables your team to focus on more important tasks vital to success like managing your data and analyzing ROI and ROAS to get the best use of your budget.

Focus on ROI

CMOs are constantly asked to show the value they add to the bottom line. With budget cuts, it’s vital for CMOs to stay away from strategies that are hard to measure.

Strategies that win and keep CFOs happy focus on improving the customer experience and promoting customer LTV (lifetime value) and satisfaction. Focus on converting repeat customers first and acquiring new customers second.

Measuring conversion lift is a way to tie marketing efforts directly to revenue, while boosting profit margins, and improving financial liquidity.

Maintain your identity and align with business goals

Now may not be the best time to experiment with new ideas unless you're confident in the outcome and the risks are minimal and/or can be managed. Now is the time to double down on your brand identity, ensure your marketing goals are aligned with your business goals and reassure your customers that they’re making smart purchases.

Innovate what you can control

You can’t control macroeconomic conditions, but you can control your customer experience. Optimizing for usability and increasing LTV and brand loyalty is a strategy that will bring success in any climate, but especially during economic uncertainty.

Resources

Forbes: What Challenges Will CMOs Deal With Most Often In 2022?

WSJ: Edgy Campaigns Are Out, TikTok Won’t Stop and Other 2023 Predictions for Marketers

McKinsey: Planning for 2023: How US-based businesses can succeed when capital and talent are constrained

WSJ: Marketers Must Be Flexible, Without Losing Identity, in Uncertain Times

WSJ: How CMOs Are Marketing Through a Turbulent Economy

Next up…

Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll tie everything from Parts 1 & 2 together and help you create your strategy for success.

Part 2 of a three-part series on how to navigate economic uncertainty using lessons learned and data from the pandemic and most recent recession.

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