Recession Preparation: Taking a Practical Approach to Communications Investments in 2023

(Note to readers: This is the first in a series of blog posts focused on how technology and cybersecurity companies can better prepare for an anticipated economic downturn. You can read part 2 here.)

With a consensus of experts predicting a recession within the next 12 months, let’s address the elephant in the room: Many tech companies are going through a state of uncertainty and seeking to manage expenses and business opportunities. Through all of this, employees are being asked to: “Do more with less.”

For those of us who have experienced serious economic downturns – these scenarios are all too familiar. And every time leaders at tech and cybersecurity organizations are faced with the same dilemma – figuring out what to do with areas of the business, such as communications, that don’t immediately or evidently result in specific revenue growth.

The formula and decision is never taken lightly. Senior business decision makers and their marketing and communications leadership are put in an unenviable position. They need to make tough choices with their marketing and communications programs. Yet, there is one question that is oft overlooked, but can help guide decisions related to these less immediately ‘tangible’ activities – “how do we generate the most value from our program (and for our business) moving forward?”

Reflexive scaling back of marketing communications can overlook the true value of brand fostering, reputation amplification and authority building – all areas which create top-of-the-funnel brand awareness raising.

But this doesn’t need to be approached as a zero sum game. What if these organizations balance their investments and take a cost-effective approach, even while their competitors put brand-building marketing programs on hold? Could they leapfrog competitors? Open new sales channels? Drive new prospect engagements? Emerge from uncertain financial times with a stronger foundation?

Professional communicators need to strategically amplify their programs while the market waits for good times to return. However, we’re also keenly aware that our organizations can’t just “do what we did before” in 2008 or 2020. So, what’s next? It’s time to “pivot with our heads up.” Organizations should continue to invest – albeit smarter – in marketing communications instead of lying low (thus pivoting from the rest of the pack) and find more efficient, cost-effective ways to execute these programs.

The upshot: This is an opportune time to create a new communications playbook to prepare for the potentially choppy waters ahead. Here are four essential components of the playbook:

Content that Works Smarter, Not Harder

Tech and cybersecurity leaders need to collaborate with marketing team members who can take key messaging points/story lines and transform them into multiple forms of concise yet comprehensive communications – whether they’re blogs, executive-bylined articles, videos, webinars, social media campaigns, etc. You shouldn’t reinvent the wheel with every effort.

Focused Research Seen as Synonymous with the Brand

Place more emphasis on developing a foundational piece of research examining one topic or issue vs. executing multiple pieces of research on multiple topics throughout the year. Companies who’ve already done this in previous years should look to issue a newer version of research on said topic to showcase patterns and year-over-year changes. The PR-to-journalist ratio is already 6-to-1 and the research pitched daily to journalist ratio is probably not far off. Marketing and PR teams want research that journalists view as synonymous with the brand. In this case – less is more.

Problem Solving Storytelling

Executives and subject matter experts need to be seen as thoughtful problem solvers and that needs to come through in most of their storytelling efforts. The creation of a customer pain points storytelling calendar – while straightforward – is an invaluable asset that can serve as the guide for all other storytelling outputs and creative assets.

Industry Conferences that are about Engaging Experiences – Not Boring Booths

The typical booth routine at conferences has gotten stale – handing out some brochure-type materials and a cheap piece of swag. Companies need to demonstrate that they understand their audiences’ time is valuable and finite. More emphasis needs to be placed on executing valuable one-on-one engagements supported by creatively themed networking events, roundtable discussions and more.

We will continue to update this blog in early 2023 as we break down each of the above components in more detail. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know about how our approach to content, fully integrated communications offerings, authentic storytelling and engaging industry conference planning can help your company, then let’s chat.