Advertising & Marketing During a Recession

| By Hope Bronsky
Advertising & Marketing During a Recession

Considering the cyclical nature of a recession, it’s probably not your first (or last) unprecedented time. But the question businesses continue to ask remains the same: How can I plan accordingly when it comes to my marketing plan? During an economic downturn, people are still discovering new brands, generating ideas, and taking action on websites, which makes your digital marketing strategy an important factor to ruminate upon. 

You might feel the need to favor quick lead generation channels that are geared toward reaching your short-term goals to prop up your company, however, it is important not to shift your budget completely. Once we come out of a recession, you still want people to know who you are as a brand. Building up long-term marketing strategies will encourage sustained growth and can allow you to win over market share among competitors. Finding the right way to allocate your budget is a balancing act of sorts – but finding the right balance will be of huge benefit in the long run. 

There is no one size fits all approach to marketing during a recession. Reflecting on what worked for you in the past and learning how to approach the current situation is what will put your business on top for the foreseeable future. 

Opportunities When You Don’t Cut Marketing 

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When you continue to invest in long-term strategies like SEO, you retain the long-term vision of getting to the top of Google either during the recession or by the time the recession ends – making you a market leader on Google even if the search volume might be a bit lower than when the economy is strong. 

What adds to your market share is that most of your competition is actually cutting marketing or moving to short-term plays, making it even more of an ideal time to capitalize on SEO. Businesses who continue to maintain or grow market share during a downturn have shown a longer-term improvement in profitability, and by investing in long-term strategies when competitors pull back, you can take advantage of higher website rankings, increased traffic and a larger customer base, especially once the economy rebounds.

After the most recent recession in 2020, “Media consumption increased overnight and will likely stay high for the months to come. Web browsing alone increased by 70%  compared to previous levels.” says Forbes. Since then, website usage and internet browsing have only gone up, which means prioritizing your website during a recession is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Eliminating any roadblocks between prospects becoming clients is to ensure your landing pages are optimized to improve user experience and conversion rates. By doing so, you are able to capture middle-of-the-funnel leads and nurture these leads for when they are ready to make a commitment. With that being said, automation is key- especially during an economic downturn. With an automated system in place, you have a unique capability to work with a downsized team. 

Additionally, leads that come through from various conversion points across your website need to either be nurtured or directed immediately to the proper sales executive. Timing is always of the essence, especially when people are a little more hesitant to spend money than normal.

Negative Impacts of Putting a Stop to Marketing

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Just like riding a bike, you risk falling behind once you lose your momentum. If you reduce or eliminate your marketing tactics altogether, you may find yourself struggling to regain the traction you once had when the recession comes to an end. Consistent marketing efforts help nurture your relationships with existing customers and induce visibility among your audience, and putting a stop to this may lead to disinterested clients, which puts you at risk of losing touch with your customer base. 

Marketing plays a vital role in building and maintaining brand awareness, and if depleted, you run into the challenge of decreased brand recognition which can make it difficult to gain the attention of potential customers. If you maintain and even strengthen your marketing during a downturn, you might just come out on top once the economy bounces back.

“In 2008, Millward Brown shared evidence that 60% of the brands that went ‘dark’ during an economic downturn (no TV ad spend for 6 months) saw ‘brand use’ decrease 24% and ‘brand image’ decrease 28%.”

Brands that cut their ad budget at a higher rate relative to their competitors were at a greater risk of share loss. Deciding to put a halt to your marketing efforts can lead to an inevitable loss of market share and decreased revenue, which affects your bottom line for the long term. 

So…What Should You Do?

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The most successful businesses during and after a recession are those that continue to invest in marketing. It’s more about a reallocation of your budget, rather than how much you can cut. 

  • Put your money in proven, tried and true channels with a trackable return. If you were spending money testing out new channels, a recession might call for reallocating those investments. 
  • Ensure your foundations are optimized as soon as possible. Sales cycles are most likely going to be longer as people are more hesitant to make spending decisions. Your website, sales operations and lead nurturing should all be looked at and refined.
  • Get to the top of Google as quickly as possible. Organic search is the most trusted channel and it is what we consider proactive, meaning users are searching for specific products and services for which they have purchase intent. While search volume will most likely decrease during a recession, having your website at the top ensures you are still driving traffic with purchase intent to your pages. 
  • Breathe. Economic downturns are a natural part of life and they come and go. If you play your cards right, you will make it through stronger than before. You got this!

We Are In It Together

Determining the best way to market during a recession can be complicated and time-consuming, but to forgo it completely is a mistake no business can afford. Recessions are inevitable and you are definitely not alone, but this won’t last forever. It is important to capitalize on the channels that can sustain and promote growth for your company, and we are here to be your partner through the good and bad. Contact Unframed Digital today.

hello@unframeddigital.com | (315) 430-4609