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Digital Marketing in a Recession: Why You Should Do it

December 22nd, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

The question on every business owners’ mind: are we there yet? 

“There” refers to a looming recession, which the International Monetary Fund has all but said is a probability. Although the US hasn’t officially declared a recession due to insufficient data, some of the biggest companies are already cutting budgets and announcing layoffs. Should you follow in their footsteps?

It makes sense to pull back on spending when a recession is likely. But it’s not always a good solution to avoid taking a financial hit. Investing in a professional SEO company that offers digital marketing strategies while other businesses are cutting back may even be an effective way to grow.

Why Marketing is Even More Important in a Recession

The most creative and innovative companies recognize opportunities when everyone else is running for cover.

Some of the biggest brands today were even founded during a U.S. recession. CNN went on-air when unemployment plummeted and the inflation rate was at 22 percent in the 1980s, MailChimp during the 2001 dot-com recession, and General Motors was founded during a 1908 recession.

Businesses that continued to advertise during a recession saw their sales surge by 275 percent. But businesses that slashed their ad budgets saw a mere 19 percent increase. Why did their digital marketing and advertising investments deliver returns?

Fewer competitors

When other businesses have pulled back on their advertising spending or have stopped launching new products and services, it leaves room for other businesses to occupy. A recession may have slowed down growth and made consumers cautious, but it doesn’t stop spending. 

People will still be buying necessities and needing critical services. So they’ll still be open to some form of advertising and marketing, which means you could be the lone voice capturing a target audience.

With less noise in the market, your brand has an opportunity to be noticed and potentially, gain a larger market share.

Greater innovation

Because there is so much pressure on getting results with less resources, businesses that know how to adapt tend to be more creative. Better ideas are generated, not just for marketing and advertising but also for products and services.

Turns out,  a recession may not be such a bad time to launch a new product, especially for the automotive industry. Research shows that businesses in the U.S. auto and UK fast-moving goods had a better chance at long-term survival and higher sales revenue when launching during a recession.

When consumers see new and even better, innovative products from businesses, they’re encouraged to think that the economy may be on its way to improving. And this brings us to the next reason for investing in marketing strategies during a recession.

A show of stability

An investment in turbulent times is an investment in your future as a business. 

Consumers want to be assured that the companies they rely on will continue to meet their needs well after an economic downturn. And brands that are visible online, through optimized YouTube videos or social media tactics, are viewed as stable. 

Continued presence in the market tells consumers it’s business as usual even when economic growth is stalled or on a decline. It also indicates to consumers that you’ve made the necessary safeguards to be shielded from or at least, mitigate the impact of a recession. That kind of diligence contributes to consumer confidence.

What Happens to Marketing in a Recession?

The pressure on marketing teams is high when brands decide to pursue campaigns during an economic downturn. Many will have to meet high expectations on returns while prevailing upon low consumer confidence. What does this mean?

It means coming up with marketing tactics, from search engine optimization to social media marketing, that can adapt to changing market conditions. It means having a talented team of strategists, content creators, optimization specialists, and email marketers who know exactly who and how to target a market.

How Do You Attract Customers During a Recession?

Although many businesses have demonstrated the upside to marketing during a recession, you’ll still need a potent strategy to get noticed by consumers.

Consider the following tactics:

1. Build customer loyalty

Market to your existing customers because it’s easier on your advertising and marketing budget. It’s five times cheaper to retain than acquire customers. It’s also effective, providing a 60% to 70% success rate, and when businesses boost customer retention by 5%, they gain 25% to 95% in profits.

A few ideas to maintain that connection with existing customers are:

  • “Thank you” emails and newsletters as part of your email marketing campaign
  • Send surveys about your products or services as part of improving the customer experience
  • Stay in touch on social media
  • Offer exclusive discounts
  • Do content marketing with targeted, helpful, and relevant content

2. Strengthen value-based marketing

Value-based marketing seems like a no-brainer. But some businesses tend to overlook it, focusing instead on features-based marketing. In a time when customers are looking to get assurance about what their money can get them and some positivity, highlighting the impact of your products or services may encourage sales.

You’ll need to leverage data on existing customers, learning their perceptions about your brand and delivering on expectations. One way to accomplish this is through content marketing that provides helpful, authentic messaging.

3. Instead of a price increase, offer tiered pricing

It may seem like a sensible thing to raise prices when you expect fewer customers to maintain revenues and margins. But this is likely to have the opposite effect: reduce sales even further.

Customers are already cautious about their spending, and to see products or services with a price increase will just drive them to a cheaper alternative. 

If you don’t offer it yet, come up with tiered pricing instead for different budgets. It’s a good way to provide more value at each tier, and it may even bring in new customers who could come at the low end of the price point.

Recessions aren’t Forever

Finally, it’s important to stay consistent with your branding. A recession, after all, occurs only for a certain period. Capitalgroup.com’s study of 11 recession cycles since the Fifties has shown that recessions can range in duration from two to 18 months, with the average pegged at about ten months.  

So unless you’re facing imminent danger, you don’t want to pivot your entire company around a situation that you’ll be in for less than a year. Plan for short-term survival, yes, but make sure you also have long-term growth in your view. 

Continue to communicate the value your business provides. Empower, and encourage consumers as they cope with financial difficulties. Generate innovative ideas to mitigate the impact of a recession. 

With substantial preparation and marketing investments, your company may just avoid a financial hit and even thrive.

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