Many of us are already tightening our belts as we feel the pinch of the cost of living crisis. It seems undeniable that another recession is looming, and even if it doesn’t, a business slowdown is inevitable.

We invariably see the same belt-tightening in advertising in the face of an economic downturn, and typically, advertising budgets are drastically reduced. Following the 2008 stock market crash, the average ad spend in the US dropped by 13%.

In tough times, many businesses fall into the trap of survival mode, planning only for the short term to ensure they’re able to ride out a financial crisis. And yet data from previous recessions reveals that businesses that reduce ad spend in this way often suffer lower growth rates on the other side, whereas those who continue to advertise at the same rate or even increase their marketing spend enjoy higher growth rates post-downturn.

When it comes to protecting the financial interests of your business, what matters the most is not spending as little as possible, but instead spending wisely – which is where influencer marketing comes in.

Here is some insight into why brands should maintain ad spend and leverage influencer marketing to keep the wind in their sails.

Aim for authenticity

We’re all hardwired to trust other consumers over companies. In fact, 92% of consumers say they would trust another individual – even a stranger – over a brand. The new generation of buyers in particular are growing up in a world in which they already trust digital influencers over paid media and are inclined to turn to reputable experts and creators for valuable, credible information.

This means influencers are top dogs for brand recommendations, and never more so than in straitened times. Influencers are accessible to everyone and they’re relatable. They’re often going through the same life experiences and troubles as your customers, and that makes them trustworthy. And when your customers are navigating financial difficulty, earning their trust is everything.

Authenticity is more important than ever in difficult times, and there is no form of advertising more authentic than the recommendation of a trusted influencer – providing the brand fit is the right one.

Believe in yourself

Most consumers lack the appetite for traditional sales pitches during recessions, but brands that believe in themselves enough to work with influencers are disarming.

By allocating more of your advertising budget to influencer marketing, you’re saying you trust in your own product, you trust your influencer partners will love it, and that their existing audiences will love it.

But the key to nurturing authentic partnerships is guidance, not control – the same briefs used in traditional media can’t be applied to influencer marketing in the same capacity. We offer guidance and advice to make the most of brand messaging, not a script. This allows the influencer the creative freedom necessary to authentically express a brand’s message.

Seize the moment while your competitors are laying low

It’s almost assured that not every brand will face the economic downturn with a brave face. Adaptation is necessary for consumers and companies alike, but if you’re smart about your spending, you can adapt to thrive, not just survive.

While there is less advertising noise and less competition, it’s an optimum moment for advertisers and brands to reposition themselves in the eyes of their audiences.

Influencer marketing is a stable, affordable and dependable option with predictable results. Focus on leveraging the established trust that creators have built with their existing audiences for genuine, honest promotion of your products that speaks to consumers’ hearts, not just their wallets.

Spend wiser, not less

Influencers represent a smart choice to stretch your budget further. The expensive work that goes into creating a single traditional advertising asset – from talent to photographers and videographers, designers and more – comes as part of the service when influencers are involved. The cost of a single influencer post very often goes further than the sum amount spent on paid media, with more reliable results.

Influencers are in the same boat as anyone else during recessions and may be willing to negotiate their terms and consider a performance-based fee over a fixed-fee payment model, removing ambiguity from the value and success measurement of your campaign.

Brands may feel pressured to go for high-profile, high-cost influencers to guarantee the success of their investment, but the right influencer match for a brand isn’t always the obvious one. Behavioural science technology now allows brands to match the most suitable influencer to a brand for a complimentary, authentic partnership, based not on follower count, but on the scientific evidence of what that partnership can achieve.

Think long-term security, not short-term savings

It might be tempting to slash commissions for faithful influencers to make short-term savings, but periods of the economic crisis are optimal for building long-term, secure partnerships. Trust goes three ways in this instance – between the influencer and their audience, between brand and consumer, but also between your brand and your partners. Remember that they too are individuals, and are seeking security during a recession just as you are.

When they’re supported, these influencer partnerships will flourish and provide a powerful, stable growth channel that will continue to thrive and benefit brands through recession and beyond.

There is almost limitless potential in influencer marketing, especially as technology continues to advance, and brands that leverage it will enhance their reach, building lasting connections with their customers that will only strengthen their reputation in the long-term.

Influencer marketing is not just a strategy for hard times, but a microcosm of how consumers behave and will continue to act long into the future. Put your trust in influencers, and trust that consumers will remember you when they’re ready to spend again.

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