When money’s tight, where should your marketing dollars go?
When money’s tight, where should your marketing dollars go?

By on in CRM, Strategy

When money’s tight, where should your marketing dollars go?

On the one hand, inflation has been decreasing for the past several months. On the other hand, some analysts believe that consumers are just starting to feel the pinch of higher interest rates and more costly goods and services now that the money they socked away during the pandemic is running low. If the cardboard box industry is any indication (think online shopping fulfillment, product packaging), consumers are definitely backing off discretionary spending.

As the world is just one giant, complex domino run, belt tightening in one area has the potential to ripple through to marketers in virtually any industry outside of the most recession-proof. So what do smart marketers do when the economy gets them stressed? Keep marketing.


Good retention can actually support acquisition, as customers evangelize on your behalf.


But how can you get the most bang for your potentially smaller marketing budget? Should you go hard on awareness? Hyper-targeted acquisition campaigns? Put it all into TikTok videos? Keep your current customers happy?

You can’t just pick one place to market. Acquisition can’t stop—you’ll need to replace anyone lost to churn and you can’t just go dark for a year or two. Acquisition is the only way to grow, and the journey back to generating leads will be too steep if you disappear from prospects’ radars. If you’re a start-up, it’s really a no-brainer. You need to stay here.

However, for anyone with an established customer base, it may be a good time to shift your priorities toward your current customers and make them want to stay.

After all, retention is definitely cheaper than acquisition, and customers often become more valuable over time. Plus, the entire internet is repeating a 2001 Bain survey that suggests a 5% increase in retention can lead to 25% to 95% increase in revenues. Is it true? Let’s assume so. Everyone seems to be reposting it.

We do know, according to an Accenture study, that once you lose someone, you have a very slim chance of winning them back.

What’s more, good retention can actually support acquisition, as customers evangelize on your behalf. And it helps you improve your efforts as you go, as loyal customers are likely to share feedback on how you can do better.

So how can you retain more of your current base? Conveniently, many of these channels and tactics can spill over to support acquisition, too.

  • Thoughtful email. Email campaigns are cheap and fast and easy. Unfortunately, that means everyone is using them—especially when budgets need to stretch. Make sure your emails are personal, relevant, and honest and provide real value to the reader. It’s especially important to message customers if you’re value-engineering your offering or raising prices to stay viable. What are you doing to not make it harder than it has to be? Let them know and ask for feedback. Honesty is authenticity. People respond.
  • Special offers. Satellite TV and mobile phone companies are notorious for advertising great deals that only apply to new customers. The idea that a person needs to leave and come back in order to get your attention is a trust killer. Give customers something special before they’re halfway out the door.
  • Your model. Can you start a subscription? Offer a loyalty program (that’s more fun and motivating than getting your 11th sandwich free)? Work those referrals?
  • Social media. Get serious about engaging on social. Like, really digging in and treating it as the valuable platform it is. Pull back the curtain on how you decide what—and what not—to do. Establish your personality and don’t just broadcast—engage with people who care enough to comment.
  • Simplification. This is a great time to look at your website and make sure your most useful customer resources are readily accessible, you’re working well on mobile (if you have a mobile-heavy audience) and your materials are easy to understand. Clean out the clutter.
  • Customer service. This may not seem like part of marketing, but every interaction matters, and nothing is more important than face-to-face or voice-to-voice. Quick responses, empathy and decisive action build strong bonds.

Automation and personalization are two of the most powerful (and cost-effective) tools in the retention kit, and FATFREE is ready to make them work for you. Connect with FATFREE to explore customer CRM and the valuable retention, cross-selling and acquisition modeling opportunities in your customer data.