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Why investing in content marketing during a recession is crucial


During the Covid-19 pandemic many companies suffered due to a smaller demand for their products and services. As we have slowly moved back to some sort of normality, we now face the impact of war and an energy crisis. To add insult to injury, we are also heading deeper into a recession.

During these bad times it is easy to understand why companies feel the need to cut costs across their organisation, and for some marketing may seem like a good place for money to be better kept in the bank. That strategy can prove both dangerous and shortsighted.

In marketing one of the goals is always to get a high return on investment, and there is no good cause to expect ROI to be worse during hard times. There is really no obvious reason that marketing will not perform well during a recession. The specific methods of marketing your products and services may however differ.

It is of course wise to be more strategic, and the bad times might even help you to keep a closer eye on how your marketing spend actually performs. But don’t get tunnel vision and focus solely on conversion. There are several other reasons to create and maintain content to continue building your brand.

Even when times look bleak, you still need to keep producing high-quality, relevant content to build and maintain trust with customers. This is perhaps even more important during a recession when consumers may be more sceptical of marketing messages. If you drastically cut your content marketing budget, you run the risk of shortsightedness ruining something you have built up over years. When times get better again you might have lost your position as a trustworthy brand. You will also most definitely lose ground in Google rankings and risk losing out on the subsequent conversion that is an important source of purchasing of products and services.

If you instead stick to your guns you could have a perfect opportunity to take some extra steps on the ladder and win customers from competitors. Studies show that the companies that continued to market through the recession of 2008 gained 3.5 times more brand visibility than those that cut budgets and waited it out.

"Content marketing provides a significant impact with minimal investment. Studies have shown that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing efforts and generates about three times as many lead."

Add to that the ability to build trust in your brand and it should be a central pillar of your marketing strategy.

It is also more expensive to recruit new customers than retaining the ones you already have. So one thing to keep in mind if you really want to cut down on your marketing budget might be to focus on nurturing your existing customers.

Most of your competitors are most likely contemplating their own marketing strategy right now. Do you really want to leave a window of opportunity open for them to win over your customers? And are you ready to let all the previous marketing efforts you have done lose their hard-fought value?

How to recession-proof your content marketing: four simple steps

It is clear that there are several reasons to keep on creating high quality content during the recession. So how should we go about it?

1. Define what sort of brand you are

Ask yourself this important question: are your products essential for your clients or are you delivering nice-to-have services? If your non-essential products are affordable you will probably find yourself in a better position than if you are supplying expensive luxury items. In the latter case you may want to think of how the mix of your marketing efforts look like. For example this might be a good opportunity to think more about brand building than spending too much of your budget on activation.

2. Make sure you have set up measurable goals

This is how you see where your invested money goes. Reevaluate your KPIs and eliminate any vanity metrics that do not deliver any tangible, actionable insights on the value of your marketing. When society changes in any direction people tend to react. This will most likely also change their search behaviour. If you make an effort to better your SEO this will be a great opportunity to rank higher on Google, and the likes, and through this gain on your competitors.

3. Audit your pre-existing content

This is also the perfect time to carry out an audit to see how your content is performing. This will help you in taking decisions regarding rewriting, repurposing and it will also help you understand what content and content type should be used in different contexts. The result can also reveal the content you should avoid.

Part of this process is also understanding how your target groups behave, and how they search for information. This is the ideal opportunity to reanalyse your channel mix and make sure you are certain about where and how your audiences are active, and which channels provide the best return on investment for your content to shine. The digital sphere is not static, so while Twitter may have been a useful platform for pushing content to your audience in 2020 for example, that may no longer be the case in 2023, where many demographics are shifting away towards other platforms like TikTok etc. This could reveal white space opportunities to deliver new, valuable content to audiences and gain better ROI before your competitors wisen up.

"Create great content, but make sure you know who you are creating it for. Content will not do much if delivered to the wrong audience. Make content clearly aimed at your audience in question."

4. Make sure you are communicating how you solve the problems people and businesses have

Even though customers may tend to consume less in uncertain times, they still want a good experience from your brand. One great upside to content marketing is the fact that it can communicate many different things. As a brand it is important to break through the noise and clearly describe your USPs

Finally, remember that times will inevitably get better, and then you will want to be best positioned to bounce back as quickly as possible. The companies that have succeeded in this after previous recessions are the ones that stuck to their marketing efforts.

Want to find out how you can get the most value from content marketing during challenging economic times? Contact our experts and they’ll be happy to help.

By Stefan Parker Head of Strategy