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June 28, 2022

Marketing During a Recession

The economy – and the potential for a recession – has been the focal point of the news lately… and as business owners and leaders, we have to make business decisions while considering that economic input. Historically, when times get tough, ‘marketing’ is often the first thing that gets cut back (or cut altogether)! In this article, we’ll explore why cutting marketing during a recession is not a smart business decision… and ways to keep actively marketing for little or no cost.

When You Cut Back

A fundamental principle of marketing is that ‘buyers can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist’ (or, more likely, don’t think of you when it’s time to buy). So, building and maintaining a high level of awareness (a.k.a. being top-of-mind) becomes the #1 priority for marketing during a recession. That is, in difficult times, you can’t really know when a buyer will be ready to make their next buying decision… so when they do, you want to make sure it’s your firm they think of!

Given that, what happens when you stop marketing during a recession? Unfortunately, you get displaced in the minds of the buyers by those who didn’t stop marketing, so it will be your competitors they think of for their next project. By the way, this is not just about acquiring new clients. In fact, it’s more about keeping existing ones. During these tight times, it’s likely that your clients’ businesses have also slowed down, meaning it’s probably longer between research projects. That bigger time gap gives your competitors even more opportunities to displace you – in that top-of-mind position – if you choose to cut back on your marketing.

When You Don’t Cut Back

But, what if your firm is the one doing the marketing (consistently and frequently) during a recession? When that happens, then it’s your firm that buyers remember… your firm that stands out… your firm that was a resource to them during the slowdown… and your firm that was strong enough to withstand the hard times.

Investing in Marketing

I get it! If things do get tight, I understand that you might not be able to continue your marketing efforts at the current level of activity. So, if you have cut back… do so smartly. For example:

  • If you’re planning on exhibiting at a conference, don’t withdraw… send two people to work at the booth instead of three (or one instead of two).
  • Are you advertising on LinkedIn? Don’t stop, but lower your daily ad budget and get more aggressive with A/B testing to make your advertising more efficient.
  • Keep your salespeople at home (like during the pandemic) and take advantage of video chat, rather than hopping on planes to visit buyers.

In addition, you should ‘double down’ on those marketing activities that cost virtually nothing…

  • Post more often on LinkedIn. Then make sure all of your co-workers are ‘liking’ the posts and ‘sharing’ them.
  • Engage more with others’ LinkedIn posts… liking them and commenting where appropriate.
  • Blog more often. In addition to giving you more opportunities to share your subject matter expertise, blog posts give you something to write about on social media and in emails.
  • Be sure your email marketing is consistent. Once a month – especially if you’re blogging more often – is not too much.
  • Host a webinar. Webinars are great for building awareness, enhancing your reputation and generating sales leads.

Bottom line

I understand the inclination to cut back on marketing during a recession… but that’s like kicking yourself when you’re down! Instead, be smart about marketing and take this opportunity to really separate yourself from the competition.


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