Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities. Unfortunately, during uncertain economic times, they’re often the hardest hit. A recession or economic downturn can present new and frightening challenges for business owners.

The stark reality is that a recession can have a destructive effect on a business that’s not prepared. In 2008, more than 400,000 small or medium businesses went bankrupt or had to close their doors. That’s a frightening statistic, but the good news is, your business doesn’t have to end up as a statistic.

Now is the time to review and “recession-proof” your marketing strategy – and we can help.

Marketing during a recession might seem unrealistic or downright impossible. But the businesses who continue with their marketing efforts – strategically – are the ones that come out of downturns stronger than they went in.

It may be the first time you have personally been responsible for having to keep a business afloat during an economic downturn. So, to help you out, our team of marketing experts dove into the most successful recession marketing experiences and distilled them into 4 principal strategies to consider.

1. Thou shalt not eliminate marketing during a recession

Author and marketing guru Jay Lipe asked the following question in his article 10 Commandments of MarketingThis text opens a new tab to a marketing article, “When is the right time to market your business?” He then answers: “…all the time.”

When a downturn hits like the one we will inevitably see following the global pandemic caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19), the first thing many business owners look to cut is their marketing budget, however, this is a mistake.

It’s obvious the need/desire to save money is there, and marketing seems like the easiest money to free up. But it has been well-documented by researchers that cutting or even removing your marketing during a recession only helps to save money in the short term. It has also been proven to lead to a much weaker and less profitable brandThis text opens a new tab to an article about advertising overall for years to come.

That being said, sometimes cuts or reductions ARE necessary.

What you want to avoid, though, is the knee-jerk reaction which could cost you much more in the future. We encourage you to reach out to us to perform a complimentary marketing budget analysis with risk assessment so you know exactly what your next steps should be.

2. Research your customers’ behavior

With everyone (most everyone) being encouraged to stay at home during this crisis, it’s obvious that physical visits to a brick and mortar location will be WAY down.

However, if you understand the behavior of your current customers online, and what appeals to them, you can adjust your strategy to pre-target other customers that are similar to the ones you already have, and quickly be able to rebound from any temporary losses. Not only will you be able to retain your current customer base, but you will be able to come out the other side even stronger.

You need to know how your current audience behaves during a recession, and not solely base your knowledge on any previous market recessions. People change as the world changes around them.

3. Know your data inside and out

When analyzing monetary output during a downturn, you need to know precisely what kind of return each aspect of marketing is providing and how it will be your key to not just surviving this hard time, but growing afterward.

Digital marketing has proven to be the best low-cost, high-return marketing strategy available to small businesses, primarily because of its measurability and targeting capabilities.

Over the years, Google Ads and Facebook Ads have implemented advanced targeting capabilities. That, combined with AI and machine learning advancements, means that you will have an easier time reaching the audiences you need to reach now and want to reach in the future. 

All of this enables you to deliver meaningful campaigns, content, and achieve the positioning you need to have to add to your bottom line.

4. Give your existing customers extra attention

Your biggest asset is always your existing customers.

Period.

During an economic recession, it is crucial you keep them happy. Bend over backward for them, and most importantly, reward them for being loyal to you. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to repay you not only in terms of money by continuing to use your services, but also by leaving you reviews and recommending you to their friends.

Who knows, maybe the company that had their friends’ business didn’t focus on them during the tough times, and now you get to earn their business as well.

Infographic: Detailed statistics about marketing during a recession

Please remember to share this page or link back to it so other businesses can also benefit.

Infographic with stats about marketing during recession

We’re in this together

Marketing during a recession may seem a little scary. As a small business ourselves, we understand the fear and uncertainty many others are experiencing right now. But time, experience, and research have taught that those who continue to market during uncertain economic times come out thriving instead of just surviving.

That said, your marketing priorities and budget may need to be adjusted for a period of time. That’s where we can help. Request a free marketing budget analysis today to get our personalized recommendations for your business.

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