Brand, Marketing, and Customer Experience in a Recession

Why your brand engagement matters more than ever in uncertain times.

After the longest US economic expansion on record we are, perhaps inevitably, experiencing some rougher waters. While the economy is still thriving, geopolitical uncertainty, trade tussles, and the inverted yield curve are threatening to disrupt the status quo.

But what does this have to do with brand, marketing, and customer experience? Quite a lot, actually. In boom times everyone has resources, competition is tight, and even great brands are fighting hard and spending a lot to stand out.

In volatile times and downturns, on the other hand, many players curb spending and brace for cover. This is where masterful marketers can reap results. Focusing on smart brand and customer engagement, marketers can and conquer market share when they need it most.

Emotion Matters

Emotionally engaging brands can help sway risk-averse customers, especially in uncertain times. Although many believe B2B marketing should be less emotional than B2C, it’s not just consumer brands that benefit. A large study by Google and Gartner showed that brand matters more in B2B than B2C marketing, and that the emotional dimension is even more critical in B2B purchases. While not intuitive, this makes complete sense when you consider what’s at stake when deciding on a multi-year, career-making project compared to buying chocolate.

For example, Slack doesn’t just communicate the hours it saves users, but prioritizes storytelling around the causes that connect to their audience—from astrophysics to exploring Antarctica and volunteering around better transport.

Buy Low

Well-placed marketing efforts in a downturn can bring outsized returns. People in general act irrationally in the stock market—tending to buy when prices are high and sell when they’re at their lowest. This applies to marketing too. When the competition is at its toughest, everyone is clamoring to shout the loudest, no matter the cost.

As an avid marketer, you can benefit from uncertain times. In tight circumstances, make sure to keep up conversations with your audiences constantly, consistently, and with incentives to act. As others hold back, you can gain market share at a fraction of the cost.

Invest in Customer Experience

Finally, a great customer experience is the most effective avenue to manage churn, deliver added benefits, and increase the dollar value of the customer base you have. According to a Medallia study published in HBR, customer experience alone can have a 2.5x impact on your added revenue. This counts even more in times when marketing budgets are tight.

What’s more, when customers get a great experience in tough times, they’re more likely to remember, trust, and reward the brands that deliver in good times as well as bad. As an added benefit, investing in experience often costs less in slumps.

For example, Adobe is an undisputed leader in B2B experience. With a deep understanding of how employee satisfaction and customer lifetime value correlate, they’ve fused customer and employee experience responsibilities under HR. Beyond their products, regular experience-a-thons and their platform are just some examples of their constant innovation and value generation around Customer Experience.

The Big Takeaway

According to a famous Wall Street saying, ‘nobody knows anything’ when it comes to where the markets might turn. But whatever happens in the coming months and years, smart investments in brand, marketing, and customer experience are sure to bring great returns.