5 B2B Marketing Strategies During a Recession

By Becky Livingston, Penheel Marketing  – April 21, 2023
5 B2B Marketing Strategies During a Recession

If you’re wondering how your firm can manage its marketing budget during a recession, you’re not alone.

Jane Hales, managing partner at Sapio Research, says, “Companies that cut their marketing budgets due to recession not only make it harder to retain customers but also to bring back new and existing customers once economic growth returns.”

If you’re tempted to reduce your marketing budget, you may be hurting your business more than helping it because you’d be missing out on opportu­nities in the marketplace. Several studies indicate that increasing marketing during a downturn could lead to growth. Doing so helps to keep the brand top of mind, which in turn is front-and-center when companies are seeking the services you offer.

5 Strategies to Compete  

Here are five strategies you can use to maximize your budget and retain valued clients:

  1. Turn off or reduce the number of nice-to-have campaigns and focus on mission-critical campaigns during priority seasons.
  2. Adjust the metrics you should be focusing on (e.g., clicks) to revenue-focused metrics, such as customer accounts won and deals acquired, cost per marketing qualified lead and cost per sales qualified leads and more. If you’re using a customer relationship management (CRM) system with a sales and marketing component, these metrics should be easy to identify. If not, this becomes much harder.
  3. Publish more value-based content that directly supports firm objectives and has a long shelf life. If the content does not support an initiative, do not create it.
  4. Use more targeted efforts that demon­strate how your service solves a pain point for clients. A good example of this is a case study or whitepaper. Informa­tion in those can be presented in webi­nars, video format or even a podcast.
  5. Promote a tiered service structure giving clients more service option combinations to choose from at a price point that makes sense when they, too, are cutting back. It allows you to upsell services to existing clients.

Changing Advertising Strategies

In addition to the above options, advertising during a recession is still wise. However, adjusting what and how you are advertising is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Pivot the business focus to essential services versus the “nice-to-have” option. Market those services more heavily than you may have in the past.
  • Update your company’s Google My Business or Bing Business profiles with revised hours, new offers you may have available (like tiered services) and share posts about the firm’s culture.
  • Fine-tune ads to focus on the firm’s updated target market. In addition, update your website search engine optimization (SEO) keywords to reflect the new focus.Test call-to-action hooks that appeal to your customers’ emotions, such as:
    • “We’re here for you. Let’s chat today.”
    • “We take the guesswork out of doing your taxes. Contact us today.”
    • “Act now and avoid penalties later.”
    • “Get as many tax breaks as legally possible.”
    • “Join now. You’ll be thanking us all year.”
    • “Stop paying too much in taxes. Call us today!”

Why Investing in Marketing Makes Sense

Here are several reasons why you should maintain, and even invest in, marketing during a recession:

  • Avoid losing market share by decreasing initiatives. Instead, keep your brand top of mind as prospects search for providers.
  • Reducing marketing spending gives your competitors a clear sign that you are no longer in the fight or that your business is vulnerable. Instead, keep your competition on its toes by tossing creative ad campaigns in their face.
  • New market leaders tend to appear during a recession, giving prospects fresh resources to tap. What can you do? Focus on brand awareness using stories to talk about your firm’s culture, how you support the community and ways you provide for others outside of the community.
  • Decreasing marketing initiatives also reduces the amount of data you can collect — data that could be crucial in a future market shift.
  • Existing customers want to know you’re still there to support them during these tough times, especially business clients. Continued marketing efforts help to stabilize the relationship you have with clients during turbulent times.

According to a 2020 Harvard Business Review article, “Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it. But they did change what they were spending their marketing budget on and when to reflect the new context in which they operated.”

To avoid potentially long-term loss, find ways to leverage marketing to help your firm stay afloat. Work with an accounting marketing consultant to successfully craft and execute your plan.

Becky  Livingston

Becky Livingston

Becky Livingston is the owner and CEO of Penheel Marketing, a New Jersey-based firm specializing in social media and digital marketing for CPAs. She is the author of a series of books, including her latest, The B2B Marketer's Guide to AI: Strategies, Tactics & Tools for Success. She can be reached at becky@penheel.com.

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This article appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.