Laura Ramos, VP, Principal Analyst and Keith Johnston, VP, Group Director
The pandemic recession has brought sobering headlines for marketers. Google reportedly cut its marketing budget by up to 50% for the second half of 2020. Airbnb halted its marketing spending altogether. Longer-term, the outlook remains unsettling: Forrester predicts that US marketing spend will fall 28% by the end of 2021, in the most optimistic scenario.
Cuts to marketing budgets may feel necessary in a crisis, but they are ultimately detrimental, Vice Presidents Laura Ramos and Keith Johnston argue on this week’s podcast episode. Less investment in marketing undercuts brand and customer experience. It weakens companies’ ability to connect with customers at a highly uncertain and emotional moment. It puts sales teams at a disadvantage through diminished lead volume and quality and lack of pipeline nurturing.
What should companies and marketing leaders prioritize to weather the downturn, and even thrive? In a word: customers. The most resilient companies are doubling down on customer focus, such as by prioritizing content that speaks to customers’ immediate needs and offering more flexible contract terms. Marketing leaders, Ramos says, should invest in customer communications that demonstrate empathy, celebrate customers’ successes, and, ultimately, turn customers into vocal advocates.
Marketing leaders should also prioritize securing their top talent and agency partners. “Be deliberate in choosing the partners that know you best and that will help you in these times,” Johnston says. Tapping into these resources, rather than cutting them, will help companies and marketers emerge stronger on the other side.