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What is a good strategy for marketing during a recession?

What is a good strategy for marketing during a recession?

The recession talks have been constant since we crawled out of a global shutdown. As inflation rates rose, concerns grew stronger. Adding to that is the number of layoffs ripping across top tech companies. When a recession happens the first thought for most businesses is to look for areas to reduce spending. The economic downturn can appear traumatic, especially for B2B companies. There will always be some worry about being able to attract new customers but also deepening concerns about retention. There is room to grow in a recession and if it happens and you need to at least be prepared.

Let’s get ready for it whether it’s going to happen or not. Consider this your little marketing zombie apocalypse training. In this article, we’ll walk you through thriving in a recession, with key marketing tools to help you with retention, while adding value to your business.

So, Are We Approaching A Recession?


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicated no official definition of recession, but there is general recognition that the term refers to a period of decline in economic activity. Very short periods of decline are not considered recessions. Most commentators and analysts use, as a practical definition of recession, two consecutive quarters of decline in a country’s real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP)—the value of all goods and services a country produces 

According to CNBC’s September Fed survey of economists, fund managers, and strategists, those surveyed said there’s a 52% chance that the U.S. could enter into recession over the next 12 months. The AP last October also reported that although the U.S. economy grew faster than expected in the July-September quarter, the government reported that the United States is not in a recession despite distressingly high inflation and interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

Recently the increasing number of layoff signals in the tech industry has been a cause for concern. According to Forbes, the layoff may be attributed to the over-hiring during the pandemic and defined as a white-collar recession. 

Earlier this year, the IMF recently reported that a third of the global economy is slowing down with inflation rates searing higher than expected and that a recession was imminent on a global scale. There was still some skepticism about when the hit will reach maturity.  That outlook has since changed with the reopening of China and strong GDP towards the end of 2022, and the drop in the inflation rate. But the return of an almost normal economy, according to the IMF should appear sometime in 2024.

Can Your Business Thrive During a Recession?

The short answer is yes. But according to Investopedia, the stocks that thrived during the pandemic belonged to the healthcare, technology, communication, and consumer industries. This is in no way a slam dunk. With careful planning, businesses can position themselves to thrive in any season. Any business owner is almost always prepared to navigate uncertainty. While there will be some cause for concern. This may also be the time to tighten things up a bit. 

Start planning for the recession and do your research. Ask the difficult questions, reevaluate your business’ position but also plan so your business will thrive during a recession.

If the unknown isn’t factored into your strategy, then maybe you need to rethink things. But the thing that gets us is the sudden downward spiral. 

Should You Halt Marketing?

There is never a reason to stop marketing your business. As we all know, word of mouth is one of the oldest and most effective forms of marketing. It can only help bolster your paid digital advertising. So, in a potential financial crisis, there are still ways to keep going!

Remember Your Goals

Your marketing goals may vary but all lead to the dreaded bottom line. But you can dissect the bottom line to prepare for a more customer-centric approach during times of uncertainty. There is much to be gained from keeping it business as usual when your marketing plan comes with a contingency plan. Make a plan for the plans if the plans go awry. 

Planning for something that may or may not happen is what every business owner does. So here are some key areas you need to focus on:

Focus More on Customer Experience

The evolved B2B path should lead to improved customer satisfaction and retention by making internal changes. As we outlined in Customer Centricity Excellence with Acquia Customer Data Platform a satisfied customer means, repeated business, and the potential for new customers because word of mouth has always worked. But that culture must be implemented and enforced by those in charge. 

More and more B2B entities are focusing on how to improve their customer experience. Working from the inside the first step and the slowing down of the economy is an optimal time to implement and test new streamlined processes. 

Use what you have. If and/or when everything is at a standstill, use your resources wisely. Take advantage of what you already know to keep your clients and potential audience engaged. Your social media platforms and presence is a great place to start. 

Don’t forget to nature the current clients you have. Make sure your clients know you’re still around by increasing your engagement efforts. Again, email and social media are at your disposal. Increasing communication with your clients will provide insights into their needs. Most importantly, you will learn how to effectively meet those needs, even during an economic downturn. 

Reevaluate Your Content Plan

What you share and how you share it will always be part of any strategy. Your expertise, projects, and employees are a great source of information and content that you can utilize to increase brand awareness and improve your customer relationships. Find inexpensive ways to disseminate that information and engage. Your email list and social media is the most effective way. 

With email, you can automate messages and prepare different campaigns to improve your conversion rate. Use the art of storytelling on social media to connect with your audience. This is a great way to build your email list. Staying active on social media keeps your current clients in the loop and serves as an opportunity for potential customers to get to know you better. 

Also, start adding videos to your content. More B2B companies are adding videos and podcasts to their content portfolio. Content diversification allows you to increase your reach and improve engagement.  

Update Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy

When things are rapidly changing, SEO will shift to accommodate what people are searching for. Searchengineland reported that a recession can be an opportunity to build customer loyalty. During a downturn, SEO can alleviate direct cost channels (such as paid) and offer long-term benefits and short-term stability. Google and the other search engines will continuously update during this period.

Check your competitors

While looking inward, remember to check out what your competitors are doing. Are they scaling back on marketing? Did they increase their offering? Where did the shift in messaging occur? Taking stock of what others are doing is a great way to decide where the areas you want to focus on are. 

Invest in Data-Driven Analytics

An economic downturn is a good time to reevaluate and invest in data-driven strategies and analytics. While some recommend avoiding doing anything drastic, it might bode well to do some research for systems that could provide better information about your customers. Customer loyalty and retention rely on the availability of data. Consolidating your martech stack might be useful during this time. 

Improving overall customer experience extends beyond a strategy and requires a system, capable of handling the influx of information and has the ability to manage and assess the data into useful metrics. We covered the Acquia CDP in this blog post but there are others you can explore based on your business needs.  

Remember to track your progress

This goes without saying. But everything you will do should be tracked. Ensure that your KPIs are updated regularly and recorded. You want to have something to measure the “hard times” against. 

Be specific about what you want to attain. Avoid using blanket statements and use tangible metrics to measure your goals. So instead of “more email opens”, use a 6% increase with a 20% conversion rate (ambitious, but this is an example). Here are some other things to bear in mind”

  • Does your KPI align with your business goals?
  • Have you removed any vanity metrics?
  • Does your KPI tie back into what you want to achieve?
  • Are you able to measure your KPI?

It will never be business as usual during a recession. Clients and businesses will be focusing on staying afloat. How well you prepare, not just in marketing, determines how well you survive. In the meantime, it is imperative that you stay abreast of any changes in the economy, figure out how those shifts might affect your business, and put in place strategies to help you stay alive. 

If you need some help, exploring and implementing digital marketing strategies to help you plan for the impending recession, schedule a call with our team. It is better to be prepared than to have no plan at all. 

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