The value of content in a recession
Runaway inflation. The war in Ukraine. Strained supply chains. Concerns about the viability of governments. It’s scary to consume the news these days. Our world is in flux and seemingly on the edge of disaster. One thing that’s certain is that whether or not the economy slides into an official recession, we’re already in a significant market slowdown. Considering that the average recession lasts 10 months to 18 months—and that marketing is one of the first budget areas to get cut—marketers are right to be concerned about continued relevance.
What’s the value of B2B marketing content in such a context? How can white papers, infographics, videos, and explainers achieve results when clients and other stakeholders are preoccupied with the bottom line and are questioning the value of all marketing, not only content?
It’s worth answering this question thoughtfully because there are opportunities in the market now that other B2B marketers are pulling back. Here’s how content marketers can show their value and command the empt(ier) stage to reach the right audience.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
We can’t emphasize this point enough: While buyers might be less likely to convert currently, retention is still key. Marketers should refocus on the long game versus the quick win, because even the worst recessions end, and they’ll want to be well-positioned when customers start buying again. They can set their sights on the top of the marketing funnel—raising awareness and building knowledge of the brand and its products—instead of the bottom, where you’re providing the specific info and guidance that will get ready-to-buy customers over the finish line.
Does this mean you should ignore actual buyers? Of course not. But what’s important at this moment is realizing that only a limited number of customers will be in the market to buy right now. Don’t neglect them, but concentrate efforts on engaging and retaining future buyers.
Now that we’ve identified the primary audience—longer-term and future prospects—we can focus on what to say and on ensuring that messaging and tone are appropriate and effective under the circumstances. Most businesses are in the same boat during a recession, so it pays to alter the voice of your content to be more empathetic and focused on long-term value and efficiency.
What can marketers specifically do to emphasize trust and value? One tactic is leveraging influencers. A recent survey found that 86% of marketers believe influencer marketing is effective, and well more than half predict it will increase. B2B influencers are more industry analyst than Kardashian, but they can also have an outsized impact.
For B2B marketers, executive thought leadership is another way to break through, with authentic messaging coming from a trusted leader of the organization. Whether through a LinkedIn post, blog, Q&A, or podcast, the leadership perspective will be appreciated during uncertain times.
It’s also important to remember that even the most technical B2B content doesn’t have to be dry or boring. While B2B is not B2C, the B2B audience is also composed of human beings who naturally respond well to good storytelling and compelling design.
Measure, experiment, repeat
In tough economic times, it’s more important than ever to measure the performance of content to inform what’s working and what isn’t. But it’s also the moment for bold experimentation. After all, leadership is not expecting blowout numbers from the marketing team in a recession, so now is the time to try new things—new forms of content—to see what might break through most effectively. Of course these lessons can be applied long after a recession is over.
Marketers can start looking up in this down market: If they focus their sights on longer-term prospects, adjust messaging and tone, and take advantage of a rare opportunity to go bold and experiment (based on careful analytics), they can come out triumphant on the other side.