Why Cutting Your Marketing Spend Is Doing More Harm Than Good

  • 1 month ago

Being a great brand isn’t just about how you communicate when you’re doing well. In fact, what sets exceptional brands apart is how they communicate and lead by example when times are tough.

It’s no secret that the future looks a little shaky. And as an agency, we’re hearing more and more stories of brands cutting their marketing budget as we head into uncertain economic times. Seems obvious, right? Slash your spending to save money. Yet, while this seems like the quickest way to save some cash, in doing so, you’re missing a real trick, because it’s these moments that give brands the space to stand out.

For those who are bold, times of recession can actually offer huge opportunities, giving you the chance to strengthen relationships with your customers, increase brand loyalty and communicate your purpose at a time when competition for attention is low. By being brave, brands are able to shine when others are shying away. 

Don’t get us wrong, we know this can feel daunting. Spending money on marketing when your sales are low or your revenue isn’t looking so healthy can seem scary, but for us, cutting off communication with your audience is even scarier. So rather than slashing spending, it’s more about looking at ways to make your marketing more efficient. We’re talking data. 

By using data to inform your strategy and marketing decisions, whether it’s revisiting your target market, auditing your current marketing channels or looking closely at what’s actually working and what is not, you can be way smarter with your brand.


Rather than slashing spending, it’s more about looking at ways to make your marketing more efficient


It’s not just about where you’re communicating either. It’s important to consider how you are. Many of your customers might be navigating troubling times and they want to be interacting with brands that they feel are in solidarity, who are sensitive and sympathetic. The most successful brands are the ones who can shift their messaging during times of uncertainty, who can tweak their tone to inject a little more humour or emotion, to show the humans behind your brand. 

Not only this, but for socially and environmentally responsible brands, this is the time when your purpose rings true. Being able to stay true to your cause, and communicate this effectively during times of uncertainty is what sets genuine purpose-driven brands apart. It’s easy to be kind to people and planet when things are going well, but to be able to do this when things are tough shows you’re serious. It shows that your values run deep in your company’s core. 


This is the kind of thing your fans will remember on the other side. 


So don’t be afraid to be bold and disrupt. A time when other big brands are shying away from marketing, is the perfect time to be disruptive. Many green start-ups are prioritising disruptive, out-of-the-box thinking to push their messages and reach new audiences, and what better time to get creative with your marketing than when many brands are taking a step back. Think about pushing budgets into creative campaigns and original stunts to reach new audiences. Especially if you’re a start-up; with leaner budgets and the licence to be bolder – this can be game-changing. 

We saw some amazing examples of this during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the world in turmoil, brands changed their tact to offer support, show solidarity and showcase their why. Not only did this create strong emotional connections with their audiences, but it led to amazing content which continues to live on long after the campaigns have ended.  Just take Facebook’s Kae Tempest video, Guinness’ St Patricks Day message, IKEA’s Make Home Count or Apple’s Creativity Goes on. Three amazing examples of brands that thought creatively and took the opportunity to engage with wider audiences and show empathy like never before.

It’s not just a recent thing either. There are heaps of studies dating back almost 100 years showing that companies that maintain or increase their marketing spending during tough times increase sales and market share. Even when doing so actually increased short-term financial pressures. 

So as we look to the uncertain times ahead, it’s time to think differently. It’s time to consider the opportunities, think outside the box and get smarter with our marketing budgets- rather than cutting them. It’s in these times that showcasing your purpose is more important than ever. 


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