Should you increase your marketing budget in tough times?

By Nicky Rudd
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It is a well-worn adage in the marketing world: as soon as times get tough, the marketing budget is the first thing to be cut.

This was certainly the case during the pandemic, when many companies – both with in-house marketing teams and using external agencies – turned the tap off pretty quickly. But here is the thing. In tough times, you need to increase sales even more than during the good times. If you are not spending money on marketing, how will your customers know to buy from you?

In fact, we’d argue that you should at the very least maintain your marketing spend and, in some instances, dial it up to support your business when the economy is not on your side. Because marketing drives long-term results, now is the time to take a close look at your marketing budget for 2023 and how you can get the most value from it.

Keeping an eye on the competition

When other brands cut back, there is more room in the market for your message. A great example of this in the world of big brands is Proctor & Gamble. In 2020, when brands were pulling the plug on marketing, Proctor & Gamble increased its spend. This, alongside the huge gaps in the market created by brands like Coke – which cut back – gave P&G even more power for their dollar than before.

“There’s big upside here,” said Jon Moeller, then the brand’s joint COO/ CFO. “In terms of reminding consumers of the benefits that they’ve experienced with our brands and how they’ve served their and their families’ needs, which is why it’s not time to go off-air.”

If your competitors are pulling back their marketing to save money, there’s a huge opportunity for you to grow into the space, make connections with existing and new customers and take some of that market share.

Think strategically

You should always have a clear marketing strategy that makes the most of your budget. In difficult commercial environments, that’s more important than ever.

Do an in-depth analysis of your current marketing efforts. What’s working and what’s not? Where could you get more value by increasing your spend, and what could you stop paying for that isn’t delivering results? Is there something new you could try without breaking the bank?

Don’t forget that you’ll need strategies that cover retaining existing customers as well as attracting new ones – in tough times, your existing customers should be an easier marketing win because they already have a relationship with you.

Collect data

The more you know, the better you can plan. Build relevant data collection and analysis into your 2023 marketing plan.

This helps you to make tiny continual shifts that improve your marketing’s impact and gives you the basis to show return on investment to the rest of your organisation.

Measure growth

Research by McGraw Hill in the 1980s studied 600 B2B companies and found that those that increased spending on their brand and advertising grew 275% more than those that didn’t. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the growth in demand and sales that marketing can deliver.

It’s also an opportunity to show your organisation the long-term power of marketing and brand building. Often, a sale that occurs today is down to marketing that’s been happening for six months or more. If you step down your marketing at the start of 2023, it could have a negative impact on sales later in the year – a sure stopper for growth.

To round up – here are our top recommendations:

  • Analyse your current marketing budget to see what’s working
  • Keep a close eye on your competitors to see if they are dropping out of your space
  • Put data collection in place to help inform spend and demonstrate results
  • Have clear targets for ROI and growth to demonstrate long-term value
  • Negotiate a budget increase

To find out more about how we can help you make the most of your marketing budget in 2023 – and keep your brand visible in the right places, call us today on 020 3282 7570 or email [email protected]

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