As we face one of the greatest health epidemics in history, all of us are in a state of adjustment.

We are all looking to carry on as best we can in the face of such great difficulties that are having a huge impact around the world. We are all adjusting to new restrictions and problems the epidemic is throwing our way. And we are all wondering what the future may hold as well.

From a business perspective, this state of adjustment can put certain areas of what you do under pressure.

One such area could be your digital marketing efforts and your ad campaigns. Reducing marketing budget in a time of crisis can seem like a reasonable step to take. But cutting marketing costs can have a long term effect that can prove truly detrimental over time.

In our latest blog, we set out why if you’re looking at reducing marketing budget at present, it’s time for a rethink.

The error companies make in a crisis

Marketing is how you promote what you do. It’s how you get your message out. It’s how you let your audience know what you do and how you do it.

Marketing is a vital channel for customer acquisition. It also plays a crucial role in customer retention.

Both customer acquisition and customer retention are tenets of any successful business. A company is nothing without its customers. And marketing is one of the best ways to form and maintain those all important customer relationships.

The danger when a crisis such as this hits is that business owners tend to look to take stock somewhat. Anything that is deemed surplus to requirements, not fundamental to success, or just a nice bonus is quickly identified. And the importance of these identified elements is immediately brought into question.

Peculiarly in our opinion, online marketing is often something that is brought into question in such circumstances.

Presumably, many business owners think something along the lines of ‘now is not the time to worry about bringing new potential customers in - it’s all about keeping hold of what we have.’

That’s fair enough from an acquisition point of view, but really neglects the retention side of things.

In a time of crisis, marketing plays an important role in helping you remain visible, manage expectations and meet your customer needs. During challenging times, your business has an opportunity to go that extra mile, meet customer’s needs in trying circumstances which may impact positively on customer loyalty. And not forgetting new customers, your shoppers may be looking to discover new retailers who can meet their particular needs during challenging times.

This is why reducing marketing budget at such a time can be an error.

green sign signifying running away

Short term benefits vs Long term drawbacks

man considering his marketing options

One of the reasons people look to curtail their marketing spending is because of the short term savings that can be made.

But the savings made in the short term only have a limited benefit - especially when you overlook some of the long term effects of cutting back or removing marketing from your plans completely.

What kind of drawbacks can removing or reducing marketing budget have in the long run?

The first is that your brand awareness can really take a hit. Customers get used to you being in their peripheries, appearing on their social media or in their inbox. If that stops, they might not necessarily notice, but suffice it to say they won’t be actively seeking your brand out. Communication is a two way street after all, and if you are relying on them coming to you, there’s no guarantee they will - especially in a time of global crisis.

Risking your brand awareness can actually prove detrimental quickly, as customers lose interest. But in the long run, if everything blows over, they may well have found an alternative company to work with and you miss out.

Once things blow over, if you have reduced your marketing budget it can take longer to catch up with everybody else. Those businesses that stay on top of things from a marketing perspective during a crisis are better placed to thrive when things go back to normal.

This all adds up to the risk of you ultimately spending more on your marketing efforts in the long run, cancelling out any short term cost savings you may want at present. The old message of ‘keep calm and carry on’ is definitely relevant here.

Marketing opportunities are out there

If your competitors are pulling back, you have a greater chance to appear more frequently at a lower cost. This is a result of lack of auction bidders in the marketplace. This could be the time to take advantage of this situation through a carefully structured PPC campaign. Have a discussion with your marketing agency to understand your best execution strategy.

What’s more, reducing marketing budget at a time like this means you are more likely to miss out on the opportunities that are presented.

The current crisis presents ample chances to present your brand in a really positive way by highlighting what you are doing to help people. This might be through certain offers, or having products that are of use in current circumstances.

Also, if you are able to do something charitable or kind and let people know you are doing it, your brand awareness and loyalty only stands to benefit.

As a great example of what we mean, Pret a Manger have tweeted that they will be giving free hot drinks to NHS workers and knocking 50% off the price of everything else they sell. This offer for people that are helping and fighting the Coronavirus on the frontline is great to see, and presents Pret in a really positive way.

Without marketing this offer though, brand awareness and loyalty would not be enhanced. Think of marketing as the medium through which you showcase what you do. By having clever marketing strategies in place, you can easily keep that message going and win by doing so!

If your business is currently reassessing things, don’t make the mistake of curtailing marketing spend. It might seem an easy option but in time, it will do more harm than good.

chair with lettering saying ‘think outside the box