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10 Ways to Bulletproof Your Marketing Strategy Through the Recession

  Minute read

The world is falling apart! We’re in the worst financial position in over 40 years. Interest rates are sky high, rents are increasing and commuting is ridiculously expensive.

You’re probably thinking about where your business can tighten it’s belt.

And your first thought is probably marketing…

We say this from experience, because in times of financial cut-backs, many businesses view marketing as an ‘unnecessary’ expense.

As though stopping doing the thing that brings your business money will somehow save it money 🤯

If anything, cutting back on your marketing will only reduce your revenue further as the world stops seeing what you’re up to. Stops hearing about your products or services. And stops knowing about your business.

History has shown time and time again that recessions can, and do, offer incredible opportunities for business growth for brands, businesses and individuals that sustain their marketing strategy and budgets.

This is not to say that a recession won’t provide challenging marketing conditions for businesses but perseverance and consistency is key.

Let’s take a look at why it’s important to bulletproof your marketing strategy through a recession and how to do it.

The importance of marketing during an economic crisis

Businesses that continue to market themselves during a recession stay at the forefront of the consumers’ minds, so when they do have disposable income to spend, they instinctively turn towards these brands.

If anything, businesses should be looking to increase their marketing efforts and budget, where possible, during a recession, as this could lead to long term market growth.

Not to mention, outperforming competitors who choose to take a backseat.

The challenges of marketing in an economic crisis

During an economic crisis, the mood of the nation, in general, is filled with worry, so businesses may need to re-evaluate their marketing strategy (not stop it) to ensure they’re being sensitive to current market climates and use empathy to avoid appearing ignorant.

One of the main reasons marketing departments are affected heavily by a recession is because of buyers being more cautious of investments. Consider leveraging psychological in digital marketing to tap into emotion-led purchase decisions and build brand loyalty.

The pressure for proven returns on marketing expenditures will increase so value-based marketing will become more important as marketers need to tackle declines in consumer confidence.

Marketers will need to be agile, flexible and dynamic to adapt to shifting consumer needs and emotions, so it is important that a business puts on a strong front to show their resilience and adaptation.   

What can marketers learn from previous recessions?

A year-long study was conducted back in 2009/10 that looked into 4,700 businesses who traded during three different global recessions.

The Harvard Business Review published the results which found that 17% of them didn’t survive, and a staggering 80% were still catching-up to their pre-recession strength a whole THREE YEARS after the economy had recovered!

It was clear that businesses that had aggressively made spending cuts without strategically investing in their business growth did not perform well and could not pick themselves back up post recession. 

The Great Recession in 2009 should have taught marketers a lot about navigating troubled waters. The outcome of the recession over a decade ago for thousands of businesses was detrimental, and many did not survive. 

Those who did, we’re sure you’ve heard of by now! We wonder why… 

  • Netflix
  • Lego
  • Groupon
  • Mailchimp

These businesses made it through the recession stronger than going into it by continuing to market to consumers despite the financial crisis. 

Marketers going forward should know that they must be adaptive to change, and any marketing strategy they are following should have flexibility to be altered at any time to keep up with current global affairs. 

Experts in the marketing industry have collated several key takeaways from the 2009 recession to give modern marketers a few tips:

  • Advertising is cheaper during a recession
  • A reduction in ad spend during a recession won’t improve your profits
  • You can boost profits in a recession by identifying new products and audiences
  • Customer loyalty is at risk during a recession
  • Staying in front of your customers empowers them to support you

How to approach marketing in a recession

You might think from the 5 takeaways above that you need to go skipping and jumping onto paid advertising, but be mindful of your strategies and what will reap the best rewards for your business, both short-term and long-term.

Consider how you plan to weather this storm and contemplate carefully whether you should use paid or organic tactics (or a strategic mix of both!)

Let’s take a look at how businesses can bulletproof their own marketing strategy ready to face the financial struggles that are looming upon us…

1. Marketing efforts take time and patience 

Any good marketer will know that marketing efforts won’t result in an overnight quick fix - it is a whole process that will take time and patience.

The best thing a marketer can do is to ensure they continue with their marketing efforts throughout financial hardship - consistency is key. 

Being prepared for a recession and having the patience to wait it out will ensure the company survives what will be a difficult time for all businesses. 

Statistics from the 2009 recession showed 3.5 times more brand visibility for companies and organisations that maintained their marketing output, compared to those that cut costs in their marketing department. 

2. Customer retention is essential 

Whilst client retention isn’t possible across all industries and businesses, it is extremely important for those who can put a focus on existing clients and consumers. 

One of the biggest strengths a company can have during a recession is a loyal customer base - during times of trouble, you can work on focusing your efforts on servicing existing clients. They will offer from five to 25 times more yield, with far less effort and expense than it takes to acquire new clients. 

Infographic showing existing customers are easier to sell to
[Image Source]

Maintaining regular and consistent communication with existing clients throughout each marketing campaign will only strengthen your connection with them, allowing them to build a genuine connection between your business and themselves. 

A huge benefit to high customer retention during a financial crisis is the build up of trust - consumers need to trust a business that they are investing time or money into, and this could easily be jeopardised if a business is perceived to be unstable, unprepared or showing great difficulty.

3. Carefully consider what you are marketing in an economic crisis

Businesses should be mindful of current affairs when creating their marketing content schedule to ensure they are posting content that is relevant, and not posting anything that will cause controversy or appear ignorant. 

In the build up of a recession, it is wise of marketers to reassess their product offerings and market their lower priced products or services to clients to portray the message that they are mindful of the state of the economy and understand that their consumers have less disposable income than they usually would. 

While some businesses will suffer, others will thrive because of the type of goods or services they offer to their consumers. Businesses that have an offering selling necessities such as groceries, fuel, travel services, will always have consumers irrespective of their financial situation. 

Ask yourself how you can present your product or service as a necessity to, first of all, avoid losing existing customers, and secondly, still attract new customers.

4. Invest in content marketing

Content marketing is an excellent, cost effective way to continue to market your business, which is why it is the perfect strategy to focus on during a recession. Content marketing involves creating informative and relevant content to engage your target audience. 

Instead of trying to ‘hard sell’ to your audience, create helpful content and provide value to them. This builds trust and when the financial crisis resolves, many of these individuals will become loyal customers as they will have built a relationship with your brand. 

Content marketing is ever-green, meaning you invest in it now and it lasts forever (give or take a few tweaks to keep it fresh and up-to-date). 

Building up your content market is a great way to solidify your place in the industry as a professional and successful brand, especially where the focus is on SEO and your content gains visibility in Google’s search engine charts 👀

Your content marketing should be relevant and relatable for your target audience, being mindful of any current national or global affairs. For the best topic and content insights, you could use a tool like Semrush to fuel your keyword research, as well as handling repurposed content across social media channels.

Semrush content calendar makes content marketing a breeze to manage

5. Outsource marketing to experts

The marketing industry has become more complex over recent years, emphasising the demand for a more tailor-made approach with cross-media activities. Marketing strategies and actions have adapted and are now more multifaceted and varied, making it more difficult for companies with a single in-house marketer to keep up.

The current state of the economy could mean that businesses will need to focus their internal efforts on customer relations and team building. Outsourcing marketing to an agency could be the perfect solution that takes one business pressure off your hands - leave your marketing projects to expert teams and rest assured that your business is safe in their hands. 

Working with clients from a variety of industries that will be affected by the recession, each in their own way, our job is to ensure that they’re making the best out of a this situation, taking every opportunity to maximise their marketing efforts and gain visibility. 

6. Make a focus on the unimpacted industries 

Although it may feel like it, if you’ve been listening to the news, not all markets or trade segments are affected equally or even adversely by the current economic crisis. The industries that remain unmoved by financial storms are those that offer consumers their essential products and services. 

Where possible, if your products or services lend themselves to it, the industries worth focusing on in your marketing efforts are:

  • Healthcare: Regardless of the economic situation it is inevitable that people will continue to fall sick, and when they do they will need quality healthcare. If a business has any product or service offerings they can present to put a focus on this industry, during a recession would be the best time. 
  • Food and groceries: Although the overall cost of living has increased significantly over recent months, it still doesn’t take away the fact that as humans we need food and water to function, so groceries will be an essential purchase no matter the state of the economy. 

7. Regularly refresh your marketing plan and strategy 

Frequent reviews of a marketing plan are necessary in order to keep the content consistent with your branding, and keep engaged with the target audience. Any good marketer will know that this comes as standard practice in marketing, regardless of the state of the economy. 

Devising a monthly plan of refreshed marketing strategies is essential for refreshing your marketing plan. This may include a combination of blog posts, emails, social media content, PR content, newsletters, and advertisements. 

Make sure there’s a clear plan of attack - a tool like or Notion can help you keep track of your marketing tasks and assign them to team members if you’re not leaving the brunt work to an agency.

The consequences of a recession can, and will, influence consumer buying behaviours long after the financial crisis has been resolved. Businesses often make the mistake of making the assumption that it will be ‘business as usual’ with consumers resuming their purchasing habits when they gain more disposable income back. This fails to take into account that trends will have changed by this point, so using old marketing strategies will be ineffective on their desired target audience.

The moral of this - always adapt with market conditions. If you didn’t learn that from the Covid-19 pandemic, learn from this wave of global ‘unprecidented’ activity! 

8. Take advantage of the cuts your competitors may make

A business's strengths and weaknesses will really show in a recession. Many competitors who in a stable economy are thriving, may find it really difficult to keep afloat in a financial storm.

Whilst your competitors facing financial hardship (58% of marketers predict their budgets will be lower in 2023 than previous years) lose their marketing focus and begin to postpone campaigns and new product launches, your business can be at an advantage to receive extra visibility from your audience at no extra cost, presuming you continue to market yourself as we’ve been telling you for the last 10 minutes!

Taking full advantage of the increased visibility of your brand sets you up long term growth; your consumers will remember your business in a positive light well after the economic crisis has come to an end.

9. Offer tiered pricing and incentives

Offering tiered pricing is a fantastic way to attract customers with a wide range of budgets, especially in times of financial struggle this will make the brand stand out against your competitors. Depending on what product or service you provide you may offer three to five different pricing tiers and gradually increase the value with each package.

Customers tend to like tiered pricing because it gives them more choices. They can alternate between a low-priced service or product and the more expensive products depending on their financial situation. Tiered pricing also makes it harder for customers to compare your prices to what your competitors charge.

When money is tight the first thing people look for is a discounted rate, and since businesses run discounts, bundles and incentives all throughout the year putting up a discount in the middle of the recession shouldn’t cause much of a financial burden for the company. Instead it will help to increase sales and positivity amongst your consumers. 

10. Keep your social channels alive

This one links to point 4 on content marketing but we felt it deserved its own mention. 

Social media can be extremely powerful in times of recession, especially since, unfortunately, many people lose their jobs and end up spending more time at home - watching TV or scrolling through social feeds.

Getting your brand in front of their eyeballs on consumer-focused platforms like Instagram and TikTok can be pivotal.

If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our 15 business ideas for Instagram reels and start creating content like there’s no tomorrow.

Screenshots of reels for business ideas inspiration
Business Instagram reel idea #4 - recommend tools or software

Top tip: a platform like Canva can help teams create content quickly and distribute it easily. 

Need some help with your marketing strategy?

We’re on the pulse of online trends and behaviours to ensure our marketing strategies are relevant and consistent. 

If you’re looking to work with an agency that gets results, we're here! And you can be rest assured that especially during such an unsettling time economically, we will devise a marketing strategy that will only work to your advantage 🚀

Our Agency Subscription offers a simple, flexible and transparent way to collaborate across video, content, SEO, PPC, design, CRM, email marketing, automation and operations to bring you more leads and sales.

Emma Fieldhouse Founder of Beyond Agency
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Just a heads up, some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning we may make a small commission on any sign-ups or purchases for the tools we recommend.

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