CMO Priorities During an Economic Recession


It’s the kind of statistic marketers dread — amid today’s economic uncertainty, more than half of US consumers will reduce their online spending.

We all know far too well about the state of economic uncertainty. What’s on the mind of chief marketing officers during these times?

According to Forrester’s Q3 B2C Marketing CMO Pulse Survey 2022, 95% plan to increase their marketing budget next year — significantly for 52%.

But for CMOs, deciding what exactly to prioritize and where to focus their funding can be a real challenge during an economic downturn. 

Invest in Current Customer Base

Tom Wentworth, chief marketing officer at Recorded Future, agrees that a customer-first strategy is essential during an economic downturn. “In a tough economic environment like we’re facing now, the best place to market is to your clients,” Wentworth said. “Help them get more value from what they already own, and they will be more likely to buy more from you in the future.” 

In a LinkedIn Live with CMSWire, Wentworth also discussed the do’s and don’ts of marketing in an economic downturn. On his “do” list: privacy, branding and becoming more like a media company by creating valuable content that goes beyond marketing content and takes a page out of the journalistic playbook.

Brand Awareness, New Marketing Strategies

Victor Elmann, CMO of Circuit City Corporation Inc., understands the recent economic downturn might be tough on businesses, but he believes it’s also a time to step up your game.

His current priorities include: 

  • Customer retention: Keeping existing customers during a recession is more important than ever. Businesses should focus on creating loyalty programs and offering incentives to customers. Additionally, they should make sure that their customer service is up to par.
  • Increasing brand awareness: Companies should focus on creating a strong online presence and using social media to increase brand awareness. Additionally, they should make sure that their marketing campaigns are targeted and relevant.
  • Developing new marketing strategies: Businesses should focus on research and innovation, making sure their campaigns are effective and efficient.

“By improving customer retention rates and increasing brand awareness with new strategies like social media campaigns or email, you can increase your chances for success during tough economic times,” Elmann said.

Related Article: Optimistic or Delusional? The Chief Marketing Officer 2022 Outlook

Efficiency, Targeting and Tailoring

Brian Gilman, CMO of IntelePeer, said to prevail in today’s environment, it’s imperative marketers are involved in almost every department of their organization, from sales to HR, understanding the basics of metrics, conversion rates and the value the department brings to an organization in order to have full support from the C-Suite.

Currently Gilman’s priorities include:

  • Efficiency: Especially during an economic downturn, marketers need to pay close attention to spending efficiency. Are your working dollars returning the way they did before the downturn? If not, you should begin to reallocate these funds to channels that are performing better.
  • Targeting: When downturns happen, sometimes casting a broad net isn’t the best course of action. Targeting particular customer spending profiles allows for lower costs and higher production campaigns.
  • Tailoring: When investments aren’t as abundant in emerging technologies, you want to tailor your messages to specific industries. By going vertical, you can become highly relevant within that particular industry.

“To maintain consumer expectations, marketers should focus on tailoring campaigns and outreach towards individuals or an industry where you may want to be considered a leader,” Gilman said. 

Related Article: Handling CX in an Economic Downturn



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