Planning Marketing Investments in Challenging Times

Henry Alzamora
7 min readMay 18, 2021


Making marketing investments are so important for businesses to achieve success. The problem is that during uncertain times, planning these marketing investments may be a lot more difficult. COVID-19 is just one situation that has occurred after various recessions during our lifetime. The trick that businesses need to learn is how to make these essential marketing investments when the future may not be as certain. How you plan through adversity can make sure that your business comes out on top in the future. This article will help you better plan your marketing investments as well as strategies to use that can help get your business through these challenging times.

Importance of Properly Managing Your Marketing Investments

During uncertain times, it’s normal to focus on the things that you need to cut to be successful. Businesses often make cuts to marketing as part of their budgeting strategy, but the problem is that they may not take enough time to determine if they are actually cutting the wasteful aspects of their marketing or if they are cutting something essential to the success of the business.

When you make budgeting cuts to your marketing department, it’s important to take a more surgical approach as you cut. See where you can make cuts, getting rid of all of the waste while ensuring that you keep those essential staff and strategies in place. Use the current financial information that you have for your budget, but make sure that you carefully look at everything that you cut to make sure that nothing essential goes. Otherwise, this could negatively impact your business.

Take the Time for New Market Research

Your time being in business has shown just how important it is to have the most accurate market information. Marketing research is particularly important during these difficult times. As much as your business might be struggling financially, so are your customers. This means that the way that they consider purchases and how they approach purchases will also be different than during those more normal times. Knowing how to better align your marketing campaign for your customers in their current financial situation can help you gain the competitive edge that you need over other businesses.

If consumers can still connect with your business because they feel that you are more aligned to their current needs, they are more likely to be loyal to your company. This loyalty can help you through even the most uncertain times.

Doing Good for Others

During uncertain times, consumers want to know that people care about them. While your business is struggling, it’s understandable that your focus has been on how to maximize any money that your business does have. But, what if doing good and helping others can actually be a smart marketing strategy?

Maybe you offer a service for free. Maybe you find a way to help your community. These things will not only help you gain a positive reputation, but you can also bring new customers in by showing them who you are as a company. When they try a service for free that they like, they will be more likely to trust you for that service (or a similar one) in the future. If you’re helping others and there are customers who are in a position to purchase products or services from you, they will be more likely to do so to contribute a company that is acting selflessly. This can actually be a very solid marketing approach that can help your business. This is the peak of an abrupt and very relevant change patterns in consumer behaviours during COVID-19.

Historical projections vs. new data

When you are determining your marketing budget, you need to have the long-term picture in mind while you try to get through these (hopefully) short-term challenging times. You cannot just go and change the fundamental core of your marketing strategy. In the past and still in some cases nowadays during this current situation, annual planning budgeting was based on a historical flow stream, which is customary to adjust it upward or downward, but now is of utmost importance to squeeze it in 2021, having thus a limited budget.

The goal is to stabilize, still focusing on the core fundamentals that you have built your business on. It’s a wise investment in just adjusting your strategy rather than making any radical changes. This is one area where marketing research can come in. Rather than scaling back all the marketing action plans, it’s quite essential a bottom-up approach baseline predictability model. Gauge future interest and demand for your items, products or services, and the normal expenses of change to acquire a clearer image of the spending you need. As a core profit-center of the business traceable business-wide goals, marketing is more important than ever now and we must prove it, whether brick and mortars or digital sales, prospecting development, lead generation, consumer engagement, and so on.

Make Room for Flexibility

Customer behaviors can change extremely fast, which is why you should offer some flexibility in your marketing budget to take advantage of any potential opportunities or adjust for any challenges that may arise throughout the course of the uncertain times. Things can change in an instant and making sure that you budget for these quick adjustments can be very helpful to you.

If your business is like most other businesses, you probably have a fixed budget that you don’t like to mess with too much when you plan for your marketing investments. However, you may find that having a more flexible approach to your marketing budget can offer you the best results during these unique times.

What about reporting to stakeholders? Simple reporting is the key here. All the channels measurements should be done holistically, in spite of us most marketers being used to focus the most on lower-funnel activities due to ROI reasons, however video ads, search ads, and re-marketing they are all part of a whole and should be seen as one single cell and thanks to AI, machine learning, an ever growing diversified analytics tool vault and big data science, it is easier nowadays for advertisers to track online and offline conversions for their target CPA (cost-per-acquisition) or ROAS (return on ad spend).

Social Media Marketing

Social medial marketing can still be a smart marketing investment during these uncertain times due to the accelerated digital adoption phenomenon and a tremendous shift in consumer expectations. This is specifically true during the time of COVID-19. During these quarantines and lockdowns, people were living on social media, this proves once again consumer behaviour change fast and influences hard, thus the flexibility into our budget is important.

In the pre COVID-19 a fixed annual marketing budget used to be reallocated in a monthly or quarterly basis. Post COVID-19 we should adapt it a more frequent basis, such as reviewing the budgeting package every week or bi-weekly to prevent outdated budget forecasts influence our best-performing campaigns, therefore, ROAS can be improved by this automatic budget allocation approach across different campaigns.

Content planning and a clear storytelling strategy is important when creating social media content that adds value to the brand and your customers. Create content that is engaging. This content shouldn’t be focus on selling to the customers; rather, it should offer them information that will educate or entertain them. It is much better the customer experience through the purchasing journey than the goal itself. Focusing solely on selling to them during this time may be poorly received by your customers, especially when so many are suffering from financial hardships of their own.

Think Affordability

Your consumers may be suffering from financial hardships and may be tightening their belts as well during these uncertain times. This means that they may be more focused on looking for the best deal than they normally would. As a business, you will need to be more competitive when it comes to the price of your products. Offering discounts or other promotions that aren’t overly complicated are exactly what customers are looking for right now.

As far as your marketing planning during these uncertain times, you will need to increase any promotions for reduced prices on products or services. However, be aware how frequent you present these promotions. You don’t want to have customers think that your prices are always going to be that low. Otherwise when you start to get through these challenging times and those promotions are gone, the customers will be disappointed in the more expensive prices.

There are different approaches that you can take here with offering discounts and promotions. For instance, maybe with a reduced price in your products or services you also reduce the amount that they get for that price. This is a good way to not negatively impact expectations when you have your normally priced items or services.

Seeing the Advantage in the Disadvantage

Reinvent, reset, pivot, think “glocal” and make your business operations a four-wheel car that accommodates to the new digital expectations. Challenging times like recessions or even pandemics can impact businesses, however there is always an advantage in the disadvantage. How you plan your marketing investments is important to whether or not your business does succeed when other businesses may be failing. The goal here was to help you get advice on how you can adapt your approach to marketing your business so that you can make it through those challenging times.



Henry Alzamora