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Winning B2B Marketing strategies during an Economic Downturn


Five ways to supercharge your B2B marketing during tough times from a leading strategic advisor.

  • Craft your own recipe for success, discover how to thrive in B2B marketing during an economic downturn.
  • Explore why adversity also presents new opportunities.
  • Outsmart the competition and win big by modifying behaviors, targeting key customers, and offering smarter solutions.

In these uncertain times, many businesses are wondering whether it's worth investing in B2B marketing. But amidst the chaos, there are opportunities to thrive, you just need to adopt the right strategic approach. In this blog post, we'll dive into why you should view this downturn as a chance to accelerate growth and provide you with a recipe for success during the upcoming recovery phase. So, sit back, grab a coffee and let’s explore how your business can not only weather the storm but come out stronger than ever.

It's not all doom and gloom

During economic uncertainty, the media tends to report negative news that can create a sense of pessimism and despair. It's easy to feel discouraged and want to pull back on B2B marketing activities. However, it's important to remember that:

A downturn doesn't necessarily mean a recession. Most market segments continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace. Industries like food and pharmaceuticals tend to remain stable since they offer essential products that people need.

  • The same applies to services. As investment in new equipment decreases, customers have a greater need for servicing existing equipment. This makes service agreements and similar offerings more attractive.
  • Geographical markets vary. While some slow down, others continue to grow. Changes in currency rates can also make certain markets more profitable to sell on.
  • Ultimately, customers still buy but are more cautious when it comes to selecting suppliers. As a downturn increases risk, it makes stable and reliable companies more appealing.

Check out Nordic Morning’s previous blog Why investing in content marketing during a recession is crucial to discover why content should always be king!

Adversity can ultimately present opportunities

While gaining market share from successful companies in a thriving economy can be challenging, downturns can offer ample opportunities to distinguish oneself and gain a foothold in the market.

The reason is simple: when others cut back on marketing and communication, it becomes much easier to be noticed. Increasing your marketing budget will boost your share of voice, leading to a higher market share over time. Numerous studies conducted over the past 100 years support this strategy. Companies that invest during a downturn are more likely to gain market share and strengthen their position during the recovery phase. In fact, firms who actually increase their marketing during a recession are likely to see a profit increase of 4.3%, with an additional 1.7 percentage point (pp) increase in market share two years after recovery.

Source: Hillier, Tony: Successful Competitive Strategies For Recession And Recovery

It’s about outsmarting the downturn and prioritizing the right things. For us, this means:

1.Concentrating on modifying behaviour rather than attitude

It's easier to change what people do than what they think or feel. For example, getting someone to buy a cheeseburger for 2 euros is easier than convincing them that cheeseburgers are good food. People usually try a product first and then develop loyalty to the brand.

To effectively communicate the value of your product, task your advertising agency with conveying tangible reasons why your target audience should buy your product right now. However, ensure they maintain your brand's position in their eagerness to create effective ads.

2. Focusing your marketing efforts on the big customers in your category

While the primary goal of marketing communication is to win new customers, it's important to prioritize effectively. This means concentrating efforts and resources on the most profitable customer segments or marketing channels, instead of spreading them thin across all possible options. In many cases, just 25% of companies in a category account for 75% of the total turnover, highlighting the need for strategic focus and prioritization in marketing communication.

During challenging economic times, it's crucial to focus on acquiring these customers as they're likely facing financial difficulties and may be more open to changing their habits and suppliers. This provides an excellent opportunity for you to gain their business. Identify who these big customers are and find out what challenges they're facing. Then, tailor your marketing communications to address their needs and concerns. Keep in mind that loyalty tends to decline during tough economic times, so seize this opportunity to win them over.

3. Developing a smarter offer with a lower threshold

Investment budgets are often the first to be cut in uncertain market conditions. To stay competitive, consider developing a smarter offer with a lower threshold. Instead of requiring a significant upfront investment, can you adjust your offering to shift costs to the operating or maintenance budget? Another strategy is to explore alternative pricing models, such as leasing your product or charging per unit consumed. You could also change the market's perception of pricing by emphasizing the total cost of ownership over the product's lifetime. By making your offering more accessible and cost-effective, you'll be better equipped to serve your customers' needs while remaining competitive in a challenging market.

4. Investing in smart digital communication

Consider investing in smart digital communication to connect with your customers more efficiently and cost-effectively. For instance, would it be more practical to host expert webinars to reach big customers rather than attending expensive trade fairs?

Digital marketing provides a range of channels and controls that enable you to target specific audiences effectively. From targeting individual companies through account-based marketing (ABM) to reaching a broader audience worldwide, digital communication can be very effective for both your business and budget.

5. Maximizing your web presence

Allocating resources to a website that drives business is crucial for reaching potential customers effectively. Research indicates that up to 70% of purchase decisions are made before any personal contact. Therefore, your website should highlight your offerings as effectively as your best salespeople and guide visitors towards conversion, which in B2B often involves follow-up contact.

Consider using your website to sell your products directly. Today's consumers are accustomed to purchasing products with the click of a button. As a result, B2B e-commerce is rapidly growing, with even airplanes now available for purchase online (with free transportation included!).

Start by offering standard products, supplies, and spare parts, and gradually expand to more advanced products. With efficient configuration tools, you can provide your customers with a seamless online buying experience, helping you capture more business and remain competitive during challenging times.

And there you have it – five of our top B2B marketing strategies for thriving during tough economic times. We hope these tips have given you some inspiration and practical ideas for staying competitive and growing your business. Remember, it's all about adapting to the changing market and finding new ways to connect with your customers. If you're interested in learning more, don't hesitate to reach out.

Ulf Vanselius Strategic Advisor Pyramid Communication ulf.vanselius@pyramid.se

Pyramid Communications is part of the Nor dic Morning Group. Pyramid helps international B2B brands with brand and communication strategies that create clear positions and smart marketing solutions.