The R-word has been looming over us for a while now, and we realize it has businesses around the country – including our clients – nervous about times ahead. Recessions can indeed cause concern, but overreacting to one (like changing course abruptly) or underreacting (putting your head in the sand) can both lead to problems that may cause more long-term issues than the downturn itself.
ALINE learned a lot about reactions and course changes during the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused nearly all of our clients to have to adjust their businesses in some way. We saw those who made smart plans and strategic adjustments weather the storm and even thrive, while their competition who shut all their marketing down fell behind. In this blog, we’ll share our whys and hows to survive a downturn in the economy through smart marketing decisions.
Focus on the Future: Recessions are Short
According to the Washington Post, the average recession lasts 11 months. Believe it or not, the recession caused by Covid lasted only 3 months. While we’re not trying to dismiss the effects of a recession on short-term profits, it’s important to keep perspective on how brief most recessions are. Do not make drastic changes that will take your marketing progress off course in ways that will take longer than a few months to correct. It’s OK to tighten your belts, but try to avoid cutting entire programs or plans for this short period of time. And businesses that can continue with strong marketing through a recession are better poised to get customers back when this period ends.
Use a Scalpel, not a Cleaver
Business experts across the board warn against pulling back too much on marketing efforts during recessions. While it’s smart to change tactics a bit and reexamine what your clients most need as they reduce spending, it’s ill advised to put all your marketing on hold. Take the time before a recession or at the beginning of one to redefine your core goals and discuss how best to communicate with your clients and potential customers while they’re feeling the effects of a bear market.
As Harvard Business Review explains:
“Although it’s wise to contain costs, failing to support brands or examine core customers’ changing needs can jeopardize performance over the long term. Companies that put customer needs under the microscope, take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand are more likely than others to flourish both during and after a recession.”
Thankfully, digital marketing offers many opportunities to use that “scalpel” and to “nimbly adjust strategies [and] tactics” to encourage business success during and after recessions. If your business needs to pull back or readjust during a recession, consider these small but effective ways to tweak a marketing strategy:
- Review the success of past digital ads and reinvest in only the most successful ones
- Run new digital ads with messages that reflect changes your customers may be making
- Use brand-awareness ads to highlight your less expensive or most recession-proof offerings
- Send newsletters and blogs to remain connected with loyal customers
- Reduce budgets on some ads without stopping them entirely
- Revamp content to improve organic SEO
Digital Marketing Benefits from Consistency
When you’re deciding which of your marketing efforts to adjust, remember that success in digital marketing builds on what's been done in the past. Ads built around keywords usually gain greater reach for less money the longer they run.
If you quit or pause your current efforts (such as Google display ads, Google retargeting ads, or Facebook ads), you can expect to lose ground on your impressions and audiences. This can be a costly mistake to correct when the economy improves. So keeping these ads running is beneficial and cost-saving in the long run, even if you have to reduce some of your budget right now.
Digital Marketing Is often more Affordable during Downturns
Since some companies do choose to cancel their ads or drastically cut their budgets, this opens up opportunities for savvy businesses to capitalize on the digital marketing opportunities. Brand-awareness ads and search ads become cheaper when fewer businesses are competing for them, so your business can potentially rise to the top at a lower cost than pre-recession times. Similarly, as other companies put less money into SEO campaigns, your business can be positioned to make gains in SEO rankings without having to increase your spending.
These gains and increased positions not only help during the leaner times, but will have you positioned in a strong place as the economy—and your competition—rebounds.
Make Savvy Marketing Part of your Long-Term Success Plan
Running a business is really about making a plan and sticking to it. While recessions can be difficult, they also present opportunities for you to stick to your long-term plans. Investing in marketing while others are not can put you in a position to come out of the recession stronger than your competition.
Ready to tweak your marketing strategy to be recession-proof?