Is recession-proof marketing genuinely possible in the uncertain headwinds of 2023, and — if not — what can B2B marketers do instead to best weather the storm?
Recession-proof B2B marketing may sound reassuring, however blindly buying into it could at the very least cause unwanted surprises, and at the worst end up proving disastrous.
Thankfully, there are marketing tactics that persevere better than others during uncertainty, however none will be quite the digital panacea that some have been recently touting.
97 percent of chief marketing officers and brand managers have said that inflation and recession concerns were a top concern when it comes to what keeps them awake at night, according to the most recent “Marketing on My Mind” survey — concerns that were new to the 2022 edition of the list.
“Marketers must make the case to the C-suite that a recession may actually be the most opportune time for brands to double-down on ad spending and seize market share,” Chuck Kapelke recently observed in the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) look at “How Marketers Avoid Potholes in the Road Ahead.”“Marketers must make the case to the C-suite that a recession may actually be the most opportune time for brands to double-down on ad spending and seize market share.” — Chuck Kapelke for @ANAmarketers Click To Tweet
Let’s take a look at three helpful things B2B marketers can do to positively address economic shifts while placing the downturn in its proper long-term context.
1 — Tap Trust & Authenticity
One straightforward way to armor your B2B marketing against recession-derived threats is to tap into the fundamental power of trust and authenticity.
Building trust with customers has seen an increased focus among B2B marketers.
“B2B marketers see this time as an opportunity to invest in building relationships and trust with customers (28%), and a chance to stay relevant and rethink their brand story (22%),” Tequia Burt, editor-in-chief of the LinkedIn* Collective and the LinkedIn Ads Blog, observed in “Companies Focus on Building Brand to Drive a Faster Recovery After the Downturn.”
Making an effort to better understand customers and their 2023 obstacles is another way to make the most of economic uncertainty.
“Retention rates are softening, conversion rates are lessening, and there seems to be an increase in discount seeking and a more frugal mindset,” Joanna Lord, industry chief marketing officer and advisor recently noted in “The State of Consumers in 2023: The Great Disconnection.”
“This will require us to deeply understand our customers — their fears, concerns, upcoming challenges and find news and authentic ways to speak to them,” Lord added.
To help strengthen trust and authenticity in B2B marketing efforts, the following articles we’ve published feature tactics that can also prove especially helpful in 2023:
- 5 Ways Influencer Marketing Builds Trust for B2B Brands
- How B2B Content Marketing Can Build Trust that Stands the Test of Time
- Trust and the Search for Answers: How Influence Optimizes SEO Performance
- 10 Ways Trust Creates Standout B2B Marketing Experiences
- The Real Thing: 5 Ways Authenticity Inspires Vibrant B2B Marketing
2 — Hone In On A More Human Touch
Another way that B2B marketers are successfully dealing with recent shifts in the market is by honing in on a more human touch.
“Economic uncertainty has made people more discerning about how they spend. And hybrid experiences have changed the way people connect,” the team at Google’s “Think with Google” recently observed as part of a look at its annual “Year in Search” report.
When it comes to the people who are creating the human touches in B2B marketing, we can glean some insight by looking at which jobs chief marketing officers are hiring for.
Growth and customer marketing, social customer care, and social media managers topped a recent Forrester list of expected CMO hiring.
The marketing professionals in these roles are in demand partly due to an increased demand for people who can create personalized digital experiences that humanize B2B brand experiences, and achieve both new customer and subsequent revenue growth.
32 percent of global business decision-makers have said that they are considering increasing marketing and sales activity over the next six months in order to help counteract economic uncertainty, according to recently-published survey data.
Our always-on digital work life has led increasingly to burnout for marketing executives and B2B customers alike, and fueled a shift to valuing fewer but closer brand relationships.
“There’s an increasing desire among customers to have fewer relationships and deeper relationships with brands — and relationships that are more tailored to their specific wants and needs,” Andrew Frank, research vice president at Gartner recently observed.
Being able to persevere through challenging times is a hallmark of successful B2B marketers, which has led some to embrace the term “all weather marketing.”
“‘All Weather Marketing’ is about having the resolve to remain steady and committed to your investment for the longer term, even as outside circumstances change,” Ty Heath, director of market engagement at LinkedIn’s B2B Institute recent examined in “Want to Drive Growth Next Year? Embrace All Weather Marketing.”“'All Weather Marketing' is about having the resolve to remain steady and committed to your investment for the longer term, even as outside circumstances change.” — Ty Heath @Tyrona Click To Tweet
In the face of record levels of content created either partially or entirely by artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot and related technology, the importance of human touch-points in B2B marketing is likely greater now than ever, and we’ve published several looks at humanizing efforts that marketers can make:
- What Recent Data Shows About The Rising Importance of Human Touch-Points in B2B Marketing
- Standing Out From AI: Why Humanizing B2B Marketing Is Key In 2023
- The Prompt Whisperer: ChatGPT’s Rising Reach In B2B Marketing & The AI Revolution
- 5 Steps For Aligning B2B Brands With Customers’ Changing Needs
- How to Create Memorable B2B Experiences for When Your Prospect Is Ready to Buy
3 — Invite Influence & Lean Into Purpose
The third key element that transcends the notion of recession-proof marketing comes when we invite greater purpose and make a conscious effort to lean into purpose.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an uptick in more purpose-driven marketing,” Chris Byrne, president of marketing strategy and brand at UPS recently noted.
“However, today’s uncertain economic environment has many brands balancing tightening budgets with the need to drive growth. My prediction is that brands that stay the course with their purpose-driven marketing efforts will see dividends paid once we weather today’s economic storm. Purpose and profitability don’t need to be at odds with one another – in fact, when executed together, they can create an even bigger impact,” Bryne added.“Brands that stay the course with their purpose-driven marketing efforts will see dividends paid once we weather today’s economic storm.” — Chris Byrne of @UPS Click To Tweet
“We know that recommendations from people we know, and trust directly, influence how we spend our time and money,” Doug Frisbie, vice president of global business marketing at Snap suggested recently in the same piece as Byrne. “Brands that capitalize on that influence successfully through their marketing strategies stand to win new customers and market share,” Frisbie also observed.
Leaning into purpose during economic uncertainty can help B2B brands share the type of personal digital stories that stand out in 2023.
“Building trust with neighbors is a key part of brand storytelling today. Ads no longer say it all; a company’s actions say much more,” Sadie Thoma, director of U.S. ads marketing at Google recently observed.
Brand purpose is poised to see growing importance in 2023, with 72 percent of B2B buyers having said that they are more apt to purchase from socially responsible companies, as we covered in our Friday Elevate B2B Marketing News.“Brand purpose is no longer something you just message. It’s how that purpose is activated by the people inside the brand and received by people who buy it.” — Max Lenderman @MaxLenderman Click To Tweet
Purpose and influence go hand-in-hand, and in the following articles we’ve explored how to make each work better both separately and in tandem:
- The Sweet Spot for Getting to Know B2B Influencers
- How Influencer Marketing Can Drive a Full Funnel Content Strategy
- 20+ Reasons B2B Brands Are Increasingly Moving To Influencer Marketing
- Turn Influential Fans Into Brand Ambassadors With B2B Influencer Marketing
- LinkedIn #B2Believe and The Playbook for Promise Making in B2B Marketing with Jim Habig
[bctt tweet=”“Brands that capitalize on that influence successfully through their marketing strategies stand to win new customers and market share.” — Doug Frisbie @DougFrisbie”
B2B Marketers Can Armor Up During Digital Downturns
By tapping into trust and authenticity, honing in on a more human touch, inviting greater influence and leaning into brand purpose, B2B marketers may not be able to craft 100 percent recession-proof work, however they will have the important digital armor necessary to positively address economic uncertainty and become all weather marketers.
Our current social media poll asks B2B marketers which business marketing tactic will be closest to recession-proof during 2023, and you can vote on both our LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.
We hope our myth-busting look at recession-proof B2B marketing will help with your own efforts in 2023 and beyond.
More than ever before, creating award-winning B2B marketing that elevates, gives voice to talent, and humanizes with authenticity takes considerable time and effort, which is why more brands are choosing to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Reach out to learn how we can help, as we’ve done for over 20 years for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and many others.
* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.