We want to talk numbers–your small business marketing budget may seem wobbly, at best, in 2023. As your wallet wanes, should you cut the cord with your mainstay (a.k.a. marketing)? Short answer: nope.

According to economists, the price is too high. Being out of sight and out of mind makes for a tumbleweed in the Old West. Instead, it’s time to mine for gold in new and innovative ways. Last Thanksgiving, for instance, Aldi and Walmart rolled back prices to pre-pandemic levels (think 2019).

If that seems too large a leap, why not find a new twist on an age-old idea? Alli Webb started Drybar, a hair salon that doubled down on one thing: blowouts. She beckoned old Hollywood glamour (hello, marketing!), and netted up to 35 percent margins, while full-service chains trailed behind.

The lesson: you can pivot to meet tough economic times… however, you don’t need grand gestures like these to do so. Check out three uncomplicated ways to master your small business marketing budget below.

Small Business Marketing in 2023: It’s Not About Luxury, It’s About Loyalty

Why focus on marketing during an economic downturn? Every penny counts, so should content creation and brand campaigns really be a priority?

Here are a few potential consequences of cutting your marketing budget.

  • Decreased brand awareness: Without regular communication, your brand will fade from customers’ minds. You’ll no longer be their go-to when they’re looking for preferred products or services.
  • Decreased brand loyalty: Without hearing from you, customers can become confused or even suspicious about why you’re no longer engaging. They’ll question the company’s stability and trustworthiness and take their business elsewhere.
  • Increased competition in your niche: Reducing your customer outreach also leaves the door open for competitors to step in and snatch up your audience (a.k.a. market share). Can you live without referrals and word-of-mouth?

Ultimately, making any major, knee-jerk slashes to your small business marketing budget can negatively impact your reputation and sales in the long run. That said, it’s understandable that you may need to economize for the good of your business.

Our advice? Make the most of your existing budget.

And we’ve got three tips for doing just that.

  1. Focus on existing customers.

Your current customer base is an incredible asset to leverage—they’re much easier to reach and more receptive to your message.  Did you know? It’s roughly five times more costly to acquire a new customer. This gives new meaning to “love the one you’re with” or as bestselling author Seth Godin says:

“Don’t try to…prove your case and to insist that people change their biases. You don’t have enough time, and you don’t have enough money. Instead, identify a population with a certain worldview, frame your story in terms of that worldview, and you win.”

Think about it. You already know your existing customer’s spending habits and interests and have their buy-in. All these factors can influence your messaging. Make a monthly plan for consistent outreach on the channels where your audience shows up most.  Express your appreciation for their loyalty by offering discounts, extending financing, and boosting rewards or savings.

Also, consider how to pivot your messaging to meet immediate needs. For example, if you serve a customer base where many will have to “slam on the brakes” in terms of their spending, highlight special deals and emphasize the value of your product for its price.

  1. Send the right message.

Be intentional about the tone you’re projecting and the content you share. Don’t be afraid to address the economic downturn head-on in your communication. Customers will see you not only as a quality brand but one that recognizes cultural and emotional barriers.

On the flip side, audit your archives to remove anything that could be deemed insensitive, non-inclusive, or controversial, given the current climate. If you know your customers are struggling to make ends meet, messaging which casts them as “financially stable” or with “lots of money to spend” should be tabled.

As always, your brand’s messaging should be clear and consistent. Transparency should extend to in-house messaging, too, so your employees feel more assurance as natural brand ambassadors for your cause.

  1. Think long-term.

Investing marketing dollars during financial hardship will help consumers remember you–a boon when the market swings upward. Take past recessions as an example: businesses that invested in marketing saw more long-term growth and profits than those that didn’t. So, when you’re cutting budgets, don’t just think of what’s most costly—consider what will benefit your company most over the next few weeks, months, and the next few years.

This requires a solution-focused mindset and equal amounts of empathy. With that in mind, grab some folks on your team who are both right-brain creatives and left-brain analysts. You’ll, no doubt, conjure some firm plans for the future with everyone and everything accounted for.

From one small business to another–we get it. The economy is tough, but you’re even tougher. Challenges breed ingenuity and adaptability. In fact, it’s the very thing we count on to drive traffic and thought leadership for our clients.  Want help setting yourself up for success? Contact One Part Social today and make this a year to remember!