How do you continue marketing in a recession? (And why you should)

How do you continue marketing in a recession? (And why you should)

We’re in the midst of a growing cost of living crisis and an impending global recession (all fun stuff). This forces businesses into survival mode, and we all know what happens now: business leaders begin to cut the marketing budget.

It’s not too late to change this narrative though, as an economic downturn can provide a rare opportunity for businesses. You could gain a competitive edge by concentrating on your marketing strategy. Let's take the 2008 recession, when advertising expenditure dropped by 13%. Statistics show businesses who continued their marketing output received 3.5x more brand visibility than those who didn’t. 

Encouraging you to continue your marketing efforts during a recession looks like a self-serving action. It definitely plays a part, but we’d never advocate for something we wouldn’t do ourselves. We’re here to tell you why and how to continue, and even ramp up, marketing throughout an economic downturn.

Hyper focus on your target audience

Spray and pray marketing techniques rarely work at the best of times. Attempting these under the tight budget constraints of a recession and you are NOT onto a winner. Instead, build targeted campaigns aimed at the types of people most likely to buy from you. Don't forget sectors like government and healthcare, which can be resistant to financial storms.

Let’s say your brand is a hosiery company specialising in comfy, practical tights designs. A logical group to target would be parents buying back to school clothing, and with this goal in mind you would structure a campaign. Run ads pushing the importance of tights that don’t fall down when running around a playground. Provide bundle discounts and hold specific sales before children return to school.


Look after your existing customers

One of your greatest assets during a recession is a devoted customer base. Giving existing customers some TLC will generate revenue with less work and expense than finding new customers. Great communication will result in customers growing an affinity for working with you. It will project a stable, secure and prepared company during a time of crisis, preserving your customers' trust in your ability to meet their needs.

Not only will you keep current customers, you can also reap the benefits of referrals. By boosting the confidence of your existing customers, they could introduce others to your business.


Take advantage of a less competitive market

During a recession, most companies cut expenses and hope the economy improves before going bust. We're saying by doing the opposite and increasing marketing spend, you will capture more business. Online visibility through search engine optimisation (SEO) and the effectiveness of pay-per-click (PPC) will improve. These increase the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing initiatives.

According to Smart Insights, SEO is often one of the most profitable marketing channels for a company - yielding over $22 for every $1 spent. Even with this knowledge, businesses decide to scale down or stop their SEO efforts when times are tough. This enables rivals (or you) to capture a larger share of search visibility and attract more qualified search visitors. Organisations who continue to spend more on PPC will profit from less competition for keywords, which often lowers the cost per click.

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Increase your product offerings to entice spending

What’s the best way to persuade recession-hit consumers to hit the buy button? Offer them more, in the form of new product offerings with extra value-adds.

You could outperform competitors who have reduced their spending on research and development. And then, when the recession eases, new product offerings will turbocharge your marketing. After an economic crisis, customers are more eager to spend money on new goods. You can upsell, cross-sell, and market to new customers more successfully when consumer spending power rises.


Utilise Conversion Rate Optimisation

Increasing a conversion rate by 1% can sometimes double the likelihood of a desired marketing outcome. Split testing, workflow improvements, and content improvements all contribute to CRO. Optimising conversion rates generates high quality prospects, boosts sales, and lowers acquisition expenses. Changing the call-to-action button's colour or font size, the smallest adjustments, can have a big impact on how well a campaign performs. Of course, tracking these conversions requires data being properly measured and interpreted. 


Recessions have always been temporary, suggesting future-proofing should be a priority. Those with a keen eye will see this as a chance to grow their market share and position themselves for success when the economy picks up. Rather than going cold turkey on marketing, contain costs and optimise spend allocation. We know this can be difficult without a little help, so why not get an agency on board to take out the guesswork?


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Nick Williams

Demand Generation Director

Nick heads up the award winning demand division of 7DOTS, which offers a full range of SEO and demand marketing services.