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Choosing Resilience: Strategic Marketing in a Recession

By Jarrod Lopiccolo

March 21, 2023

strategic marketing in a recession

Business climates are rarely seas of tranquility. With the success of each crest in the economic cycle comes the uncertainty and drama of the trough. 

While volatility is unsettling, rest assured: you’re not alone.

When times get tough, consumers tend to become more cautious with their spending and prioritize their expenses. Businesses, in turn, may experience a decline in sales and respond by cutting costs, lowering prices and delaying new investments. 

But this is actually what’s exciting. 

A changed marketplace creates new opportunities. New ways of thinking take hold. Space is created for innovation. Competitors pull back, but you can charge ahead and capture market share!

Just look at Airbnb and Warby Parker. Both massively disrupted their industries, and both were started during the Great Recession.

Why Marketing Matters in a Downturn

Decades of research and studies have shown that maintaining or increasing marketing efforts during a recession can help businesses adjust to a changed market, reach new customers, build brand loyalty and gain market share–all essential for long-term success.

A hallmark of recessions is a drop in consumer spending, which increases competition. Increased competition compels businesses to differentiate themselves and increase their value proposition to attract customers, including cutting prices and focusing on brand values. Investing in marketing can help them achieve this.

While new customer acquisition can replace drops in revenue, retaining existing customers is critical, too. Current and past customers can act as a buffer: they’re price tolerant, have lower acquisition costs and are more likely to purchase again (as well as share testimonials).

Shifting focus from revenue to market share is equally critical. As consumer spending falls and the market contracts, maintaining and growing share deflect the negative impact of the downturn onto competitors. Additionally, a business with a larger market share is more likely to be recognized by consumers, which can help build brand recognition, increase customer loyalty and decrease acquisition costs.

Essential Tips for Recession Marketing

As the economy turns, it’s actually a thrilling opportunity to improve your strategic and tactical approach to generating sales. “Let’s Be Better Every Day” is the Noble Studios motto, after all. You’ll find the motivation to be more targeted and focused than ever before. 

Strategic Marketing Tips in a Recession

  • Evaluate and revise your marketing strategy to account for current market trends.
  • Invest in the long-term vision of your brand with a strong brand platform.
  • Use market research and customer data to gain insight into customers’ priorities.
  • Clearly communicate the value your business offers customers.
  • Affirm your business’ loyalty by marketing to current customers to retain their business.
  • Align your marketing and sales efforts for maximum impact through sales enablement.

Tactical Marketing Tips in a Recession

  • Update your messaging to align with research and current market conditions.
  • Recognize the significance of lead nurturing in the buying process.
  • Prioritize targeted marketing efforts over mass marketing to make the most of your marketing budget.
  • Show appreciation for your current clients; don’t take them for granted.
  • Regularly review your marketing channels’ and campaigns’ performance.
  • Focus on your sales funnel to determine where conversions are coming from and where they’re falling out. 
  • Invest in educational content to support extended buying cycles.
  • Improve your local SEO to increase visibility in your local market.
  • Create remarketing campaigns to target previous customers who haven’t made purchases in a while.
Resilient Strategic Marketing in a Recession

Four Go-To Channels for Recession Marketing

There are four marketing channels that become even more important as businesses act to reduce consumer spending and competitors peeling back. When paired with a strategic priority, they become even more valuable. 

1. Content Marketing for Extended Sales Cycles

Educational content marketing can establish a brand as a thought leader while building trust and credibility with potential customers. By providing valuable information and resources, businesses can demonstrate their expertise and knowledge in a particular field and establish themselves as reliable sources of information. Educational content can also help to attract new customers by providing them with the context needed to make informed purchasing decisions. 

2. Email Marketing for Customer Retention

Email marketing can be an effective tool for customer retention during a recession: simply leverage information already at hand. Emails that keep customers informed about new products, offer exclusive/personalized deals and discounts and emphasize the benefits of a loyalty program can be deeply impactful. For B2B email marketing, nurture campaigns that focus on content will engage buyers as sales cycles extend. This can help create a sense of community and customer engagement, which can increase loyalty and retention.

3. Digital Ads for Precise Demand Generation

During an economic downturn, reaching core audiences is even more critical. Minimizing wasted impressions is even more important when advertising budgets are closely monitored. Businesses can create highly targeted paid media marketing campaigns that reach the right people at the right time by using the vast amounts of data and targeting available on digital advertising platforms. Retargeting campaigns that reach users who have already shown an interest in a product or service can increase conversion rates by channeling budget to users most likely to convert. All these factors make digital ads a powerful tool for reaching and converting target audiences cost-effectively and efficiently.

4. Conversion Rate Optimization to Improve Efficiency

During an economic downturn, every site visitor and sales opportunity matters. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can help businesses increase the percentage of website visitors that take a desired action, such as making a purchase, filling out a contact form or signing up for a newsletter. By increasing the conversion rate, businesses can generate more revenue from their existing website traffic without having to spend more money on acquiring new visitors. 

Through testing and optimization, CRO can help to improve the overall user experience by identifying and addressing any friction points that may be preventing visitors from converting. 

Chart Your Course

If there’s anything to learn from Gilligan’s Island, it’s that you can survive a storm. But thriving requires a diverse cast of strategic plans and consistency. 

Don’t wait for your business to get stuck on a deserted island season after season. Click here and find out how Noble Studios can help skipper your marketing and lower your chances of being marooned. 

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