Unless you actively avoid the news and/or the bills from your gas & electric provider, you’ve probably noticed that things are looking a bit…well, gloomy.
We can’t get away from the topic of the oncoming recession that is expected to hit at the end of 2022. For businesses, that means there’s a lot of talk about cutting marketing budgets, ‘tightening your belts’ and hunkering down.
But this advice doesn’t sit well with us because, surely, most businesses can’t afford to hibernate during a recession? Isn’t it a time when you need to be there for your customers, to showcase what you do, how you help and who you are?
Why we’re talking about running a business during a recession
We started a business during the last recession. We were bright-eyed twenty-year-olds determined to beat the odds, and in a way, that unquestioning naivety kinda worked for us.
But we’ve never run an established business throughout a recession. This is new to us, and it might be for you, too. Even though we know we want to ramp up our marketing, we also know that marketing during a recession is a bit different.
So we’ve turned to business and marketing experts to give us their personal views on marketing during a recession.
We asked them all how they would market themselves during a recession and in this article we’ll talk about what they said.
Honestly, this stuff is absolute gold. And if your plan is to ‘hunker down’ during the impending (probable) recession, you absolutely need to read on…
How to Market Yourself During A Recession: 20 Business and Marketing Experts Give Us Their Views
“Double down on what’s working.
Though you may feel the desire to slash your own marketing budget, numerous studies have shown that actually maintaining marketing budgets is best. However, wasting marketing budgets is never a good idea, especially during a recession. Take a look at the ROI of all your marketing initiatives – what’s working and what’s not? Now is the time to double down on what is, and ditch anything that’s not bringing a return for your business.”
“Remember that your best and most loyal customers are your primary source of life and growth. That’s true always – but especially true during a recession. Marketing to and nurturing those relationships isn’t optional; instead, it’s a good investment. And it’s essential.
What does that look like?
1) Pay attention to not just what you say — but how you say it. Are you communicating with empathy in a way that feels real, true, relatable… and with zero “marketing speak”? Now it a good time to drop any whiff of a corporate facade in your communications.
2) Your email newsletter is important. Are you offering real value to readers? Are you writing to one person at one time in a way that feels connective and builds trust?
3) Stay relevant. Stabilize your spend but don’t choke it off. It’s tempting to cut all marketing costs. But that’s a mistake. History has shown us that companies that consistently market during downturns in accessible, relatable, relevant ways out-perform the rest.”
“There are two types of marketing strategies that work particularly well in a recession.
The first is to renegade with your existing database of people who already know who you are. As things change, their needs and wants change and your message can reflect this.
The second is to reach out to complimentary businesses around you and look for ways to promote each other. It’s particularly effective to have a lunch for 10 companies and to look for potential marketing joint-ventures.
Both of these strategies leverage money that has already been spent and relationships that are already in place.”
Christine Gritmon, Senior Editor of Social Media Pulse, Host of #ChatAboutBrand, Content Creator
“One huge thing companies need to recognize—especially nowadays—is that you won’t make it through if consumers aren’t rooting for you on some level, if they don’t feel like not having you there on the other side of the recession would be a loss they would truly feel.
You can create this feeling of attachment by humanizing your branding a bit more: showcasing the actual people who run the business, sharing more about the community of consumers themselves, and really building a sense that by supporting your brand, they are truly part of something that connects with them and reflects themselves on some level. When people have less disposable income to spend, brand means everything.”
Jack Appleby, Writer of Future Social – Morning Brew’s Newsletter
“Honestly? If you’re marketing your product in a way you believe is right for your company and brand, you shouldn’t overreact to a recession. Sure, make sure you understand the market and are really honest about your product’s role in your customers’ lives, double check your measurements, but don’t hard reset unless things stop working.”
Kylie Lang, Quiz Funnel Strategist & Consultant, Speaker
“Embrace personalised marketing.
One size fits all marketing is no longer a thing and you’ll find that within your audience you have people all at different points in their journey so meet them where they’re at in that journey. Generic emails that speak to everyone don’t work anymore. Nobody wants to feel like one of a number they want to feel like they’re the one and only in your world. How do you do this? By using personalised marketing funnels like quiz funnels that allow you to talk specifically to someone about their issue or challenge based on the knowledge you’ve gained from their quiz answers. Give value, be helpful, inspire, educate and motivate. This is the key to marketing success as move into 2023.”
Joe Glover, Co-founder of The Marketing Meetup
“My point would probably not be about getting ‘more’ from your customers, but instead being aware that some of your customers are going to be in a very different headspace than normal because of what will be going on in their personal lives, and, it’s impossible to know who will be feeling what.
Therefore, have patience with your customers and with your messaging. Err on the side of being kind and helpful. In times of struggle, it’s also the time we should come together, and our marketing comms is no exclusion.”
Yinka Ewuola, Multi-Award Winning Business Owner, Coach. Ted-X Speaker
“Create Marketing Assets for your business, that create cashflow for you, and value for your clients.
Cashflow is the only thing that can involuntarily stop your business, and so the state of play in that area becomes even more important in a recession.
And so when things get tough, you want to ensure that you can keep marketing – which means it’s not longer sufficient for it to be something you have to pay for.
And more than ever, your marketing has to create VALUE, for your business and for your clients, so by creating marketing assets, that truly solve problems, and pays you cash, your marketing PAYS its way, and is not an expense to your business – but a means of continuing to support you and your market with value.”
“Focus on doing a few things really well. Create amazingly differentiated value and consistently publish it to your core subscribers.”
Madalyn Sklar, Serial Entrepreneur, Community Builder, Speaker and Leading Twitter Marketing Expert
“My best advice on marketing during a recession is to focus on engaging with your audience more than you already do. One thing that never goes out of style is to help others and make it about them.”
“The greatest marketing innovations happen during a recession. Why? Because, like myself in 2009, businesses have nothing to lose. And it’s during this type of pain, frustration, and stress that we often times do that which we’d been feeling for some time, but now finally have the motivation to do it.
So although I don’t look forward to the hardship a recession will bring to many individuals, I do know the marketing innovation we’ll see will, once again, be profound.”
Katelyn Bourgoin, Founder of Customer Camp, Keynote Speaker, ‘Customer Whisperer’
“The cold, hard truth is that the vast majority of people aren’t ready to buy. That said, there are common events that trigger prospects to move from being disinterested in a solution like yours to suddenly realizing they have a problem to solve. Marketers who leverage these buying triggers can spend 80% less on upfront marketing costs. If marketers want to reach more of the right people at the right time, they should focus on learning the common buying triggers related to their product.”
Omar Zenhom, Founder of WebinarNinja & The $100 MBA Show podcast
“Don’t stop marketing. Marketing is what’s going to help you during a recession. Marketing is cheapest and easiest when everyone is pulling out their marketing dollars. Get resourceful and collaborate with others. Now is the time to put your foot on the marketing accelerator.”
Rob and Kennedy, Founders of Email Marketing Heroes and ResponseSuite
and Hosts of the Email Marketing Show
“We are really going to focus on two things:
1. Maximising customer value. That’s doing as much as possible to increase how much each customer spends. There’s a huge variety of ways of doing this from offering an annual plan at a discount, offering upgrades and more support for an extra price.
2. Focus on acquisition of new customers. If customers are going to leave or spend potentially less, we need more customers so a keen focus on dialling in your ability to turn new, cold people into paying customers.
This involves list building and dialling in your email marketing to convert subscribers into paying customers.”
Jake Mason, Founder of performance agency Incaloop,
Director of fashion rental platform For The Creators
“In recessions, good marketing really stands out. Even more so than normal, in recessions clients and customers shop around and choose carefully where they spend their money. This means you have to be crystal clear on the outcomes that your product or service delivers to your customer.
Let’s be clear, outcomes are NOT product benefits, or USPs, or features. Outcomes are the end result that the customer gets.
If you’re not communicating outcomes and you’re stuck on benefits and features, your marketing will blend in and you’ll get left behind by competition.”
Louis Grenier, Founder of Everybody Hates Marketers and Host (and founder) of the Popular Contrarian Marketing Podcast ‘Everyone Hates Marketers’
“An entire century of data points to the same thing: don’t stop marketing. Or you’d come out worse off. Instead, tighten up your positioning and obsess over reaching as many category buyers as you can.
Steven Oddy, CEO of ScoreApp
“Continue to build and develop an outstanding product or service. Listen to your customers and the people you want to help. During downturns, people tend to panic and product developments stall. Now’s the time to double down and build something you can be proud of.”
Kevin Indig, Strategic Growth Advisor, Creator of the Growth Memo Newsletter
and Host of the Tech Bound Podcast
“My #1 advice: Consumer behavior changes during a recession, and so does conversation rate, exploration time, and evaluation time. So, you have to reset your conversion funnel and understanding of how users find and evaluate your products.”
Simon Yu, Co-Founder & CEO of StormX, Inc. and Angel Investor
“It might take years for things to improve. It’s important to double down on efficiency. Keep costs low while maintaining profitability. In previous years where funding is prevalent, you can place bets on projects that won’t immediately make any revenues.”
Nathan Barry, Founder & CEO at ConvertKit