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Marketing in a recession is essential: here’s why and how to prepare

Marketing during a recession

Don’t just survive a recession. Thrive.

Worried about marketing in a recession? Whether you’re a marketing specialist or business owner, you’ve likely wondered how the current economy—and possible recession—will affect business.

Here’s the good news: businesses can thrive during a recession, and we’re here to show you how.

The marketing experts at Insight Creative have helped countless businesses continue to thrive throughout the Great Recession, COVID-19, the 2020 recession and many other economic downturns. Now, we’re sharing these insights to help you succeed!

Learn how to prepare for and tailor your marketing during a recession to beat the competition and remain successful, even in these trying times.

Table of Contents

How does a recession affect businesses?

In the simplest terms, a recession happens when there isn’t enough activity in the economy. Too little demand leads to drops in prices, which many businesses have to mitigate through layoffs and internal budget cuts.

It’s not a guarantee that your business will struggle during a recession, however. In fact, many businesses and industries have record-breaking earning quarters during times of economic struggle.

Business sectors that do well in a recession:

  • Grocery stores and fast food chains
  • Streaming services and other at-home entertainment
  • Hospitals, clinics and pharmaceutical companies
  • Large discount retailers and big-box stores
  • Software, digital security, IT and tech companies
  • Electricians, plumbers, mechanics and other general contractors

On the other hand, not everyone can reap the benefits of an economic downturn.

Businesses most affected in a recession:

  • Independent retailers
  • Sit-down restaurants, bars and coffee shops
  • Hotels, airlines, theme parks and other travel-related businesses
  • B2B businesses

Regardless of industry, all businesses will have to prepare to make strategic marketing moves in a recession. You can begin to do this by understanding and preparing for the changes most likely to occur in an economic downturn.

Actions consumers tend to take in a recession:

  • Cut unnecessary spending.
  • Leave top and mid-tier brands to opt for budget retailers and big-box stores.
  • Seek out deals for the products they continue to purchase.

Learn more about consumer spending habits in a recession and how to respond.

Actions businesses tend to take in a recession:

  • Tighten budgets and narrow marketing segments and strategies.
  • Cut vendors with the lowest return on investment.
  • Stop making or drastically cut back on new investments.

Your business can still thrive in a recession.

We know—none of that sounds very hopeful for business owners or marketing specialists. But remember this: the success of your business during a recession isn’t up to chance.

Even in the best economic conditions, businesses require strategic goal setting and implementation to be successful. This still holds true during a recession, when it’s possible for brands to not only stay afloat but flourish.

No matter what industry you’re in, a recession is never an automatic loss for business, nor is it an automatic advantage. Even the most affected businesses, like B2B brands, can succeed with the right strategy.

B2B sales during a recession

B2B businesses will have to go above and beyond in proving the value and worth of their products and services to businesses already struggling to stay afloat.

This means taking steps like narrowing their marketing segment, targeting high-quality leads, adjusting their positioning and messaging accordingly and focusing on value-driven marketing.

Spoiler alert: these are the key steps any business should follow to thrive in a recession—not just B2B businesses.

The success of your business will depend on how you respond to the changing market and consumer needs. The best way to do that? Invest in your marketing.

Why you shouldn’t stop marketing in a recession

Many businesses will decrease their marketing budgets—or quit their efforts altogether—in the face of a recession. However, in this attempt to mitigate losses, these companies may be doing themselves a great disservice.

After all, research shows that pulling the plug on established marketing efforts during a recession can often do more damage than good.

Importance of marketing during a recession

Brands that maintain or increase their marketing budget during a recession are the most likely to flourish. That’s in part because consumers need clear communication and value propositions more than ever during a recession. You can’t do that without marketing.

Benefits of marketing in a recession

Consumers' needs, fears and buying habits change during a recession. To stay competitive, you’ll have to adjust your marketing accordingly … but we know that’s easier said than done.

Believe it or not, there are key benefits to marketing in a recession. When leveraged correctly, these advantages can help to boost your brand, audience and sales.

Unique advantages to marketing during a recession:

  • Less competitive advertising
  • Increased return on investment
  • More opportunity for brand awareness growth

Less competitive advertising

Many businesses will pull back on their marketing efforts, leaving an opening for brands that create effective recession marketing strategies.

Increased return on investment

With less competition, marketing and advertising will be cheaper and your marketing investment will go much further.

More opportunity for brand awareness growth

Your brand’s ongoing presence through an uncertain time has the potential to speak volumes. And with less noise in the market, a compelling marketing campaign can help you boost your brand awareness and visibility faster than ever.

Effective marketing strategies to implement during a recession

Businesses that continue to market in an economic downturn will have the upper hand over competitors, but that doesn’t mean you should spend recklessly. Marketing in a recession can be risky if you don’t conduct proper market research, create a clear plan or develop strategic tactics.

For the best chance of success when marketing during a recession:

  • Narrow your target market.
  • Adjust your messaging.
  • Focus on value-based marketing.
  • Prepare your recession strategy ahead of time.

Narrow your target market.

In hard times, it may sound counterintuitive to market to fewer consumers, but this is an effective strategy for many reasons.

By targeting a highly specific ideal customer profile, your messaging can be more personalized and effective. Plus, your advertising dollars will go further by focusing on obtaining quality leads, rather than an excess of low-converting leads.

Adjust your messaging.

Emotions run high during recessions. Bring comfort to your audience and inspire consumer confidence by leading with messages of hope, compassion and a desire to help.

Focus on value-based marketing.

In a recession, consumers will be far more conscious about their spending and brands will have to prove why their products/services are worth buying.

Focus your marketing efforts on highlighting the value and necessity of your offerings even in an economically trying time.

Prepare your recession marketing strategy ahead of time.

The number one strategy to thrive in a recession is to be prepared when the time comes. To survive a recession, create a detailed recession marketing plan for the future and dedicate time to bolster your current marketing efforts.

How to prepare your business and marketing in a recession

You can’t stop a recession, but you can prepare for it. Follow these tips from Insight marketing specialists to stay ahead of the competition and continue to thrive in a recession.

Conduct a full marketing audit.

Get a big-picture understanding of how your current marketing is performing. Track which content performs the best, where most of your engagement comes from and how your marketing efforts are affecting sales.

Not sure how to run a marketing audit? Insight can help provide essential technical data and SEO performance analysis to see how your current marketing is performing. Contact us to get started with a FREE site and SEO audit.

Create a strategic recession marketing plan.

Use the information you gathered from market and audience research, as well as your marketing audit, to guide your planning process. When the recession hits, you’ll be ahead of your competitors and ready to respond.

Invest in full-service professional marketing.

In a recession, businesses simply can’t afford to waste money on subpar marketing. Your marketing goals, strategies, tactics and campaigns need to be backed up by:

  • Thorough market research
  • Consistent and highly targeted messaging
  • Position monitoring
  • Real-time responses to the changing market and consumer needs

A full-service marketing agency like Insight Creative makes this easier than ever. By managing all of your marketing under one roof, you will have access to the expertise of SEM strategists, media specialists, content writers, web developers, graphic designers and more, all for one competitive rate.

Ensure your business thrives in any economy

Running a business or marketing department in a recession is stressful, but far from impossible. With a strategic plan of action, your business, employees and customers can thrive, even in an economic downturn.

Insight Creative’s biggest takeaways to thrive during a recession:

  • Don’t cut your marketing budget.
  • Invest in strategic, targeted and value-driven marketing.
  • Adjust your positioning and messaging accordingly.
  • Bolster your current marketing to prepare for success.

You don’t have to keep your business afloat through a recession alone! Learn how the expert team at Insight Creative can help you strategize, build and execute an effective marketing plan that will allow you to thrive … even in a recession.

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