Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

How To Navigate Content Marketing In A Recession

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
If you're a B2B content marketer working in an industry that doesn't thrive during economic downturns, you're right to worry about them, because not only may you be facing budget cuts (or at least a budget freeze) on your side, you may face distribution & audience challenges as well. And there are three key reasons why.

1. Recession Layoffs Mean Fewer Prospects & Fewer Ways To Reach Them

Layoffs mean fewer people are getting your emails at their work addresses. It also means you have fewer of your own employees to help amplify your content on social media (especially LinkedIn). It also means that whatever engagement you're getting on social media is now less immediately valuable, because some of those people you thought still worked for your customers are really unemployed and haven't told anyone yet.

2. The Leftovers Are Occupied

Those who didn't get laid off may very well be busier than they were before, either handling extra workload created by layoffs, or polishing their resumes and scoping out other employers (or both). Either way, employed people will likely have less time and less incentive to read your content, no matter how you've been reaching them, or are trying to reach them.

3. Reduced Customer Spending

Assuming your customers reduce their spending, they'll spend less time searching for purchase-related keywords (thus hampering your SEO), and your lead-gen content won't convert as well as it did before, or at least the quality of the leads it generates won't be as good.

What You Should Do About It

First of all, I absolutely do not advocate reducing your content spend in a recession, even if you're reducing marketing spend in other areas, like events or other brand activations, for five key reasons.

One, most companies don't spend enough on content even during the good times, which means a reduction during the bad times can prolong them. Two, if your company is indeed reducing its brand activation ground game, content becomes all the more important to staying on your customers' radar, because how else are you going to do it? Three, content is cheaper to make during a recession, presenting an opportunity to get "caught up" in areas you've been neglecting (more on this later).

Four, paid promotion is cheaper during a recession because your competitors are doing it less. And five, content marketing is already slow-burning by nature, which means you really don't want to slow that burn any more during a downturn, because the audience just might change the channel. But despite what I've just told you, I don't necessarily recommend you just keep doing what you've been doing till now. Some changes may be needed.

Reduce Some Of Your Lead-Gen

I chose this particular phrasing for a reason. If you're launching any new products into a recession, you shouldn't neglect your lead-gen content efforts for them, because you'll still need them (even if the full benefits will have to wait for a recovery). However, if you have other, more general lead-gen efforts going on, or lead-gen efforts for products that were launched before the recession, those may be more expendable.

Create Some Consideration Content

Pure consideration content (which talks about what you sell but doesn't ask for contact details) tends to be neglected, even during the good times (because you're so busy trying to get leads instead). So, it's not a bad idea to redirect some of that former lead-gen budget a stage higher in the funnel.

However, this additional content should not necessarily be tied to a specific product. Instead, you may want to talk more about the advantages of your brand at a more general level for all or some categories of your products. Key proprietary technologies you use. Key technical advantages you hold. Key tech partnerships you have. These sorts of things.

But you'll also want to make sure that you've got good consideration content in place for any new products you decide to launch, because buyers might need a little extra clarity into and justification for any purchases they make right now.

Alter Your Awareness Profile

You might need to make some changes regarding the types of awareness content you're making, because if you do create some of that aforementioned consideration content, you'll also need to create some awareness content that leads to it (otherwise few may find it), and because the payoff for industry-specific awareness content is likely to go down during a recession for all the reasons I mentioned earlier.

If your brand serves multiple industries, consider going broader and more high-level with your awareness content. In other words, create and promote content that's useful to all the industries you serve, as this'll be a more efficient use of your resources.

For any industry-specific awareness content you're still creating, remember two of the items I mentioned earlier. Some of your target audience is unemployed, and those that are still employed are busier. For the former, instead of offering knowledge about problems employers are having, offer knowledge that makes them more employable. Also consider stepping up your content that relates to industry news & discourse, because this audience no longer has access to their former employers' paid subscriptions to analyst reports and the like.

For your followers who are still employed, instead of solely creating awareness content meant to steer customers to buying a new solution, create content that educates them about how to stretch their current solution a little longer (if appropriate), or how to make do with reduced budgets or less people. And reduce the frequency of your emails while you're at it (so your brand is a pleasant surprise and not an annoying woodpecker tapping on their door) while promoting your awareness content more forcefully (to be sure you get heard amid a busy workday).

More Brand-Level Content

I've often used the term "content" in this article and not "content marketing," because during a recession, it might not hurt to allocate some spend to content that doesn't clearly serve a content marketing function but still serves the brand, because there's another audience to consider as the recession starts to ease -- jobseekers.

Create some brand-level content about your company, why people would want to work there, your CSR activity, etc. This is all stuff that tends to be neglected during the good times. So get it done now when your content people are less likely to be busy with ad hoc requests or tradeshow support.

Of course, the advice offered so far has largely been for a hypothetical business. If you need specific guidance about how to navigate your ship through stormy waters, just reach out here.

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