This article makes the argument that downsizing your marketing to reflect an economic downturn is a strategic mis-step, and instead discusses how to realign your priorities to be more impactful in difficult market conditions.
The Channel Company, which incudes CRN, Computing, Channel Partner Insight and bChannels, has come together recently to create an end-to-end service to connect vendors, channel partners and end users of enterprise technology.
This is the fifth in a series of blogs explaining some of the biggest challenges facing Channel leaders in 2023 that we will be working with Technology Vendors to overcome, focusing on adapting marketing to current economic conditions.
We're already well into Q2 2023 and for IT, ongoing and new challenges abound.
Supply chain woes continue, geopolitical conflicts persist, and fear of economic uncertainty looms. For many technology businesses, budgets have already been squashed and marketing is typically the first to feel the pinch.
However, you cannot afford to lose brand awareness and mindshare during periods of instability. Times of challenge are always also an opportunity for innovation and adaptation, and ripe soil for thought leadership.
So, how can technology companies overcome 2023's hurdles?
IT overworked but information-hungry
With recruitment and retention challenges remaining, business leaders are increasingly expected to make more from less. These pressures are impacting already time-poor IT personnel. Because of this, it's a common misconception that IT leaders and teams are too busy to engage with content.
However, alongside mounting responsibilities, IT is ultimately in control of large purchases and valuable decisions and will actively engage with detailed insights and in-depth content, and spare time to attend virtual and in-person events. However, this content must address their pain points, opportunities, and information needs.
Cutting back costs
Inflation, recession, and efficiency are all top of mind for today's IT leaders. Businesses are becoming more discerning about the products and services they're investing in but must prioritise value above all else amidst all this change.
Similarly, for marketers, making smart, cost-effective marketing decisions is where successful companies will land. Using intent-based ABM, matching content with ideal customer profiles and increasing marketing infiltration to specific targets, ensures the top accounts are identified, prioritised, and engaged.
Crucially, this requires a multichannel approach with the right messaging targeted at the right time in your viewer's journey. Multiple points of entry - social, email, native and display - told in multiple ways (long-form pieces, short articles, video, and webinars all tailored to your target account list and look-alikes), will amplify your voice in your communities and stand out against your competitors.
It's not enough to win potential customer attention for a few moments every now and then - you need to provide quality resources to support every step of the buying journey and remain in the forefront of their minds - mindshare is critical to achieving buy in. Encourage repeat visits to the same messaging - from ads, display, and articles the audience is funnelled down to hero assets, webinars and face-to-face events, in order to reach buyers as many times as possible on their own terms, wherever they are.
Furthermore, decision making units are growing both in size and seniority, as buyers look to be more discerning with their purchases. This means that an increased focus on senior decision makers, particularly in the C-suite, can make a significant impact in speeding up your sales cycles and give you the edge in those final stages of the process.
Efficiency over growth - the case for consolidation
Companies are entering a period of infrastructure consolidation, focusing on streamlining and perfecting existing tools. This includes fine tuning tech stacks, while cutting out single-use services in favour of platforms handling multiple tasks to aid access, security, and crucially, costs.
Budget reductions impact projects, workloads and more, and in order to survive, businesses must be proactive. Strategically investing MDF budgets, carefully thinking about messaging, and aligning with creators that share your company values, understand your products and your target market, will ensure your maximise your marketing budget.
Playing a longer game
Downturns don't last forever. While more of your addressable market won't be in a position to invest in the near future than usual, doesn't mean they'll never be of relevance to you again. Instead, many are merely waiting for a turnaround in market conditions before they can loosen the purse strings. When that happens, buyers will turn to the brands at the forefront of their mind, which is why it's important to maintain strong brand presence in the market during fallow periods. As many of your competitors will scale back their own efforts in brand advertising, you can even make a bigger than usual impact on your brand salience - although you may have to wait a little longer for your efforts to bear fruit.