Large shifts in the economy are disruptive to any company’s marketing communications strategy – but “disruptive” doesn’t need to mean “destructive.” Through good and bad times, your marketing communications program is one of your greatest tools for connecting with your audience, driving leads, and maintaining business health.
Of course, it’s easier to rally around a booming economy. With demand, spending, and revenue up – what’s not to love? Dedicating just as much time and energy to molding your program’s activities around a downturn might feel backward. But it’s just as important (if not more) to ensure that you’re delivering timely and relevant messages to your audience while signaling larger business health and market leadership when other companies may be scaling back.
With experts buzzing about a looming recession, your marketing communications should be focused on accurate audience targeting, driving leads, and finding efficiencies across your program. To get you started, we’ve listed our recommendations for the top projects and activity alterations that you’ll want to explore first.
Audience Understanding – You know that your audience’s needs will change in light of a shifting economy, but are you clear on how exactly? Set aside time to update your customer personas with intel on their new mindset to inform your team how to reach them best.
Messaging – Use your updated personas to think through modifications to messaging for your service and/or product offerings. What narratives can you leverage to reiterate these key messages? How can you better tailor your value prop to your audiences’ new priorities?
SEO Strategy – How will your audience’s search queries change considering the economic environment? Think through where it makes sense for your brand to show up in that customer journey stage and update your keyword strategy accordingly.
Content Marketing + Sales Enablement – Focus on building assets that drive purchase interest from your audience and aid the sales team in proving your value against competitors to close the deal. At the same time, arm your customer success team with what they need to maintain and grow current customer relationships. That might sound like a lot to ask of your content. But many pieces can work double time across multiple needs, such as informative blog posts, data-driven reports and e-books, audience personas, battle cards, product one-pagers, and results (case studies, stats, testimonials).
Premium Content Assets – While building larger pieces of premium content like reports, white papers, and e-books takes more time upfront, it pays off in the long run. A larger asset can efficiently fuel activities across your entire program. Align the subject matter of your premium content with your modified narratives and messaging to deliver targeted communications to your audiences across channels.
Gated Content – Mix in more gated content to capture additional leads. Remember that gated content doesn’t need to be a premium asset. Think about what small-scale downloads you can easily create, like infographics, lists, and one-pagers. In addition to publishing them on their own, look back through your existing blogs for places where it makes sense to insert them as an in-line download. In particular, try to add them to posts already driving a decent amount of organic traffic.
Recycle Old Content – Chances are, you’ve already created a lot of great content; it’s just out of date or buried in the archives. Save time you might have otherwise spent writing net new content by reviewing your library for evergreen pieces to easily refresh and republish or ones that can be piecemealed (pulled apart, combined with others) to create additional posts. For instance, you can flip part of a blog into a download, bundle key points from multiple posts under a theme, or break up larger gated content into multiple ungated blog posts.
PR + Media Relations
Thought Leadership + Proactive Media Relations – Economic disruptions are notorious for slowing down product roadmaps and announcement pipelines. To fill in the gaps left by a lack of hard news items, focus on proactive media relations strategies like newsjacking and angles fueled by original data.
Ad Spend + Paid Search – Contrary to what your gut might be telling you, a recession can be one of the best times to double down on ad spend to drive visibility and traffic to your website. Not only will you get more bang for your buck as rates drop due to lower demand, but you’ll also see a greater opportunity to grow your share of voice as competitors likely cut back on spending. Not to mention, this will boost brand image since active ads are often considered a sign of corporate stability.
Hiring – It’s natural for layoffs to happen during economic dips. No one likes to see it, but if you’re in the position to do some hiring, it can be a great time to acquire talent. Work with your communications team to build an employer branding strategy, including recruitment campaigns that sync with shifting employee expectations in the market. This is particularly important following events like the great reshuffling and the talent shortages we’ve seen in recent times.
Employee Communications – Don’t forget that your current workforce is one of your most important audiences. Economic changes can be a major source of stress for employees, especially if they feel like they aren’t getting the transparency they need from their employer to feel comfortable and informed. Prioritize your internal communications strategies to help retain talent, strengthen alignment on brand values, and generate a greater sense of belonging and community in your workplace.
Stay Agile with Your Communications
As you analyze your unique program and audience, remember that there is not a specific playbook for getting through the ups and downs of the economy. The most important strategy for achieving longevity is to avoid growing too attached to a particular scope of work. Instead, to preserve your connection with key audiences, get comfortable with a program that flexes in response to changes, trends, and performance.