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  • Writer's pictureRachel Baines

Invest in marketing in a downturn

Times are tough. There’s no shying away from it.


Agencies collectively returned from Christmas to a pretty dry January. Clients reducing spend and pipelines stagnating have been a common topic of conversation with agency founders in the past two months.


But just as you tell your own clients, now is actually a great time to invest in your own marketing instead of cutting back which can be counterproductive. It indicates to clients (current and prospective) that you’re not open for business at a moment when you want to be communicating the opposite.


Not convinced? Here are some reasons why doubling down on marketing activity when it feels the scariest is actually the most sensible thing to do;


  1. When everything is going well in the world, everyone is doing marketing. There is a huge amount of competition and costs can increase vastly. The opposite is true in a downturn. Agencies that go hard now will find they gain a greater degree of visibility and lower associated costs due to few being brave enough to push forward.

  2. If you’re continuing to market your services, you’re generating trust with your clients that you are weathering the storm. Clients need trust in their agency partners now more than ever and you’ll find your retention levels are easier to maintain – especially if you’re adding value with your marketing content.

  3. While the benefits of marketing may not be immediately apparent, investing in marketing during a downturn can have long-term benefits for an agency. By building brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, and attracting new clients, you can position yourself for future success.

  4. Recessions are actually a great time for smaller agencies to attract bigger clients as they look to tighten their belts. Position your agency and actively market to larger brands looking to make cost savings, this will set you up with a great springboard to post downturn to grow these relationships when spending picks up.

  5. You won’t see a return on your top of funnel marketing efforts for 3-6 months minimum. Many agency buying cycles are much longer. So, investing in marketing now will help your Q3-4 and beyond. Don’t wait till your leads have dried up to kickstart your marketing activity!

  6. By continuing to invest in your marketing you can optimise your media mix and work out which channels are the best for your agency to engage with new clients and build relationships.


While there may be budgetary concerns and uncertainty about the return on investment, taking a proactive approach to marketing is a smart strategy for agency leaders looking to weather the storm of a downturn.


But what do you invest in to get the best return on your investment?


Content Marketing


Content marketing is a cost-effective way to attract new clients and build relationships with them. By creating valuable content, such as articles, guides, videos, and infographics, an agency can establish itself as a thought leader in its industry and illustrate its expertise. Content marketing is a great investment as it's as far away from a ‘flash in the pan’ as you can get.


If you’re strategic about the content you create, you can make it evergreen, repurpose and reuse it multiple times. The content can be cut numerous ways to fuel your marketing activity for up to 6 months and allow you to answer the key challenges that your prospective clients are facing.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)


Investing in content marketing will also assist with your SEO. By making your agency more visible online, you attract more traffic to your site. And to make your agency more visible, you need to be searchable.


By creating content that answers key challenges your clients are struggling with, you’ll begin to rank higher on search engines, meaning you’re more findable by the people who need your help. This can result in more leads and conversions, without having to spend a lot on advertising.


Referral Marketing


Referral marketing can be incredibly powerful as people buy from people. By incentivising existing clients to refer new business, you can leverage your existing network to generate new leads. What’s more, these leads tend to have a much higher conversion rate than others as recommendations come from trusted sources and they have, to some extent been pre-qualified.


Outsource your marketing


Marketing has become more complex over time and takes more effort and energy to get right, as an agency founder, let’s face it, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

By outsourcing your marketing to a third party (like Chime Agency) you can streamline your processes, focus on running your business and servicing clients, while your outsourced team help takes care of the marketing requirements.


Outsourced marketing can also be scaled dependent on your own success. Retainer costs can be customised to meet the specific needs of your agency meaning you can adjust your marketing efforts as needed to ensure you’re getting the most from your budget.


So, while it may be tempting for founders to cut back on marketing during a downturn, doing so can have negative long-term effects on your business. By investing in marketing during challenging times, agencies can maintain their brand visibility, build stronger relationships with existing clients, and attract new prospects.


Whether it's through content marketing, SEO, email marketing, social media, or referral marketing, investing in marketing can help agencies weather the storm and emerge stronger in the long run. By keeping these factors in mind and embracing a proactive marketing strategy, agency founders can stay ahead of the curve and thrive.

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