How to Market Smart in a Challenging Economy

marketing during recessionThe sudden economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 shutdown has wreaked havoc on businesses, both large and small.  Due to the social restrictions and business interruptions caused by the pandemic, some companies are cutting back on marketing, while others are being more agile and refocusing their approach to compete during these difficult times.

Smart B2B companies know that the last thing you should do in a challenging economy is pull back your marketing. Instead, you need to learn how to do more with less – making sure every marketing dollar is working for you.

How can your B2B company thrive in these troubled times? By marketing smart. The following tips will help put you on the path to success.  

Think of Marketing as an Investment, Not an Expense

If you think of marketing only as an expense, you’re probably doing it wrong. Marketing is an investment that should produce a measurable return in the form of qualified leads and bankable sales. Just as you would carefully review the return on investment (ROI) for stocks and funds in your retirement portfolio, you should carefully evaluate the ROI for all of the investments in your company’s marketing portfolio, including online and offline marketing activities.

So, what type of return on investment should your marketing produce? Well, your marketing should produce a measurable return in four ways.

First, your marketing should help you attract prospects, or new customers. The key to success is targeting your marketing efforts to make sure you are in front of the right people at the right time.

Attracting new customers is where most companies spend the majority of their marketing dollars and time. This is unfortunate, because it is much easier (and less costly) to sell to existing customers because you have already earned their trust and you have credibility. So, your marketing should also produce results in three additional ways by getting existing customers to:

  • Spend more
  • Come back more often to buy from you
  • And, refer new business to you

Measure Marketing ROI

So, how will you know if your marketing investments are producing a significant ROI?  You need to measure results.  ROI needs to be as fundamental an ingredient in marketing as it is in finance, sales, R&D or any other strategic role in your company. Unfortunately, very few marketers know how to effectively measure marketing ROI. If you’re not measuring marketing ROI, it’s time to start – and it’s not as hard as you think. The following ideas will help you get started:

  • Implement a web analytics system, such as Google Analytics, to measure how well your website and online marketing are working toward achieving your business goals. This online report set will show you which online marketing activities are generating the most traffic, what products and content they are engaging with and what ‘calls to action’ are generating the most leads and sales. Setup campaign tracking for each of your online marketing activities (e.g., search ads, email marketing, social media posts, etc.) to track leads and sales generated by each marketing activity.
  • Leverage a call conversion tracking system, such as CallRail, to help you see how effectively your online marketing campaigns lead to phone calls from your website. When someone visits your website after clicking one of your ads, website call conversion tracking can help you identify and measure calls from your site.  This system can also be leveraged to measure call conversions generated from offline activities, like mailed flyers, postcards and print advertising.

Cut Marginal Marketing Investments

Now that you know what’s working and what’s not, it’s time to cut, cut, cut. Cut marginal investments that are not producing a solid return. Save this money or choose to invest these funds into activities that are producing stellar returns. To deal with the effects of the pandemic, many of your peers are pulling funding away from traditional marketing activities, like magazine advertising, trade shows and direct mail. At the same time, they are increasing investments in online marketing activities such as websites, search engine marketing, email marketing and social media marketing because they more customers are doing business online.

Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine

The most successful companies consider their website to be their most powerful marketing tool. Do you? Your website is the most public face of your company. More people will visit your website than will ever visit your location, view your literature or talk to your salespeople. Make the most of this marketing channel by transforming your website into a lead generation machine.

Begin by providing customer-focused content and interactive features that speak to the needs of your customers and provide the solution they are seeking. Next, don’t rely on your website’s ‘Contact Us’ page as the sole method for prospects to take action. To turn your website into a lead generation machine, pepper your website with a variety of relevant offers tailored to the needs of your target audience, such as:

  • Request a quote
  • Purchase online
  • Online chat
  • Ask a question
  • Order free samples
  • Register for webinars
  • Request access to ‘premium content’ – ‘how to’ guides and whitepapers
  • Subscribe to your e-mail newsletter

In addition, don’t forget to prominently display your phone number on every page. More than half of web visitors prefer to call rather than complete an online form.

Attract New Customers from Search Engines

If you are not focusing on search engine marketing, it is likely that your company is invisible online. Search engine marketing is extremely important because, according to research, over 80% of customers begin at a search engine like Google when researching products and services online.

Simply defined, search engine marketing helps ensure your company’s Website is presented at the top of the search results when people are searching for your products and capabilities. Prospects who find your website through search engines are actively looking for information on your products and will be motivated to take action when they land on your website. In addition, with the pay-for-performance model of search pay-per-click advertising, you only pay when a qualified prospect clicks on your ad and visits your website.

Cherish Your Existing Customers

Last, but certainly not least, strengthen your relationships with your existing customers. We all know it is far easier to sell to existing customers than to try and win new ones. So, make sure you do everything you can to demonstrate to your current customers that you are a valued partner that understands their needs during this difficult time.

Many successful marketers are turning to educational email newsletters to help with this effort. Often, the big challenge in producing a successful email newsletter is creating content that your customers will find valuable. E-newsletters that simply provide a recap of your latest products and news may be of great interest to you, but they are of little interest to your customers. To make your e-newsletter a ‘must read’ and a valuable nurturing tool for your business, you need to provide useful, actionable, business-building information that will truly help your customers. If approached correctly, your email newsletter will be a valuable relationship builder for your company.

By embracing these ideas and ‘marketing smart,’ your company will be well-positioned to succeed in these challenging times and beyond, as well as give you an edge over competitors who are slow to react.

How Can I Help You?

If you like to learn strategies for marketing during the pandemic (and beyond), I am here to help. Schedule a free website analysis with me.  I will provide you with actionable tips and proven strategies to help you generate more leads, sales, and profits online.

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About the author

B2B online marketing strategist, speaker, author and consultant on a mission to help B2B and industrial companies generate more leads, sales and profits online.

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