The UK economy has had a turbulent time of late, with soaring inflation and rising costs causing disruption and hardship for businesses and individuals alike. The tech industry has been particularly hard hit, with organisations executing mass layoffs, hiring freezes and company-wide budget cuts in a bid to remain viable. As part of measures to minimise outlay and risk, many management teams are bringing their PR and marketing budgets under greater scrutiny. In fact, research published late last year found that 74% of CMOs across a range of sectors in the UK have either seen, or are facing, cuts to their marketing budgets.
Yet, economic uncertainty is not the ideal time to cut budgets and cease activity. On the contrary, it’s during these turbulent periods and times of hardship that tech brands need to keep tech PR and marketing active and consistent.
- Maintaining brand awareness – All marketing and PR efforts to date have fed into the common goal of raising awareness among key audiences. Significantly reducing or stopping these activities altogether risks undoing all that hard work and allowing your brand to fade into the background while competitors come to the fore. Reducing your exposure to potential customers and partners can also cause enquiries and business opportunities to dry up – from both new and existing contacts.
- Brand communications require consistency – Effective brand identity and clear communication is crucial to building trust and loyalty with key audiences. Letting this tail off can allow key messages and points of differentiation to become diluted. Not only can this lead to a decline in support, but it can also mean growth opportunities end up passing you by.
- PR and marketing feeds the sales funnel – While it’s often difficult to evidence direct links between marketing and PR activity and uplifts in sales, campaigns are designed to support the customer journey and drive new leads and prospects. Stripping back this resource cuts off this vital stream to sales and can lead to further drops in enquiries and revenue. What’s more, new leads can be set and tracked as campaign KPIs, providing further opportunity to measure success of PR beyond simply tracking coverage volume and reach – as is often the preconception.
- Get the vital data and insight to guide your strategy – Digital PR and marketing generates a constant stream of valuable data that we can use and learn from to inform future decisions and activity. You need to be able to understand what’s working well and what isn’t, and have the data to evidence your decisions to justify the investment to management. In cutting PR and marketing budgets, you inadvertently reduce opportunity to learn from your audience.
- Internal comms are the vital bridge between your product and the market – Clear strategy and communications within the organisation are just as important as those externally. A united front and clear, consistent messaging for teams is key to enable them to effectively represent and sell the brand and product in the market.
Effective communications are not only crucial for performance, but in turbulent times or during economic hardship, they can be especially important in connecting with your audience and showing that you understand them and their challenges. Consider the broader landscape your customer base is operating in and how you can adapt your approach to show you’re supporting them, whether you’re able to offer price freezes, flexible payment models, additional support or informative resources. Showing you’re listening and changing your value proposition to align with market conditions or current challenges can go a long way in fostering long term loyalty and trust.
PR and marketing efforts play a crucial role in driving brand awareness, cementing brand identity and USPs, fostering customer loyalty, feeding the sales funnel and supporting long term growth. Economic hardship and difficult market conditions typically cause buying cycles to lengthen, and it’s during this time that awareness, visibility, trust and good relationships are more important than ever to help the business overcome adversity and come out of the other side even stronger.