How To Win At Marketing During a Recession

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essential tips you should know to survive marketing during a recession

Before you get yourself in a panic about the potential of an upcoming recession, listen to this: you can still win sales and convert customers during a recession. 

If you have the right perspective, a recession doesn’t have to be scary. We’re living proof that recession can be a great accelerator. Zen Media was started in 2008, at the height of what was one of the worst recessions in history. While other companies were shutting their doors and scaling down operations, we were scaling up. Our company grew 400% in that first year.

So what’s the key to winning during a recession? It’s perspective. Before you can take any actionable steps toward recession-proofing your company, you have to adjust your goals. 

Preservation should not be the goal, but for many companies, it is. Like a sinking ship, they throw off all of the weight from their businesses in hopes that they’ll stay afloat a little longer. They cut down essential processes, slash expenses, and usually give up on things deemed non-essential (often, this means marketing and digital strategy). Driven by panic, they strip the metaphorical ship bare and remove elements that were once deemed essential. This isn’t the best choice.

Leaders need a perspective shift and must understand that crises (like recessions) are opportunities for growth and acceleration. You just have to know how to spot them.

Business magnate Warren Buffett famously said, “Opportunity comes infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”

So, how can you take a crisis and turn it into an opportunity for your business? Try this.

Double down on your marketing strategy.

Most business leaders approach recession the same way—they panic and stop everything. Most think that this will save costs and expenses, but it can create problems down the line. It’s only a bandaid-type solution, and it doesn’t heal the problem overall. Instead, you need to be more intentional with your marketing.

A time of crisis is the perfect moment to double down on your marketing strategy—not abandon it. It’s mission-critical to your business’s longevity. Stick with your existing strategy and watch for trends in B2B buyer behavior. You may have to adapt to new customer priorities, but you should continue to invest time, energy, and effort into your marketing strategy. 

As your competition pull back on their marketing efforts in panic, your continued efforts will help your business rise to the top in terms of visibility and trust. 

Focus on your value proposition.

During a recession, buyers are more critical. They’re less willing to spend money on products simply because they are available. Consumers want to know that they are spending their hard-earned, hard-saved money on the best and most valuable products and services.

In your marketing strategy, focus on communicating your value proposition clearly. What makes your company unique? Why should consumers work with you and not your competitors? What makes you better than all of the rest? This is niche marketing, and it can help you reach more customers and create better relationships. 

Niche marketing isn’t about winning just any customers—it’s about winning the customers who are part of your target demographic. These are the customers that are most likely to be long-term and loyal. Identifying this smaller target audience of consumers may seem counter-intuitive—limiting your reach to only a few rather than trying to reach everyone. But the truth is, focusing on a niche tends to help brands be more successful, especially in times of crisis. The key here is finding those who are best suited to your products or services and marketing directly to them. This helps you connect with consumers, who are more likely to convert—meaning that your marketing dollars will have a strong ROI.  

You can communicate your value proposition in a variety of ways: through your social media marketing strategy, on your website, and in the way that your brand engages with consumers in the digital space. 

Give prospects a reason to trust you.

After you’ve established your value proposition, you need to build trust with your prospects. If they’re going to spend money on your product or service, they need to trust that you will deliver. The best way to build trust is to show up consistently, stick to your values, and expand the reach of your brand. 

Marketing and PR work together to help brands build trust and establish connections with their consumers. With marketing, you’re building trust by showcasing your brand, what you have to offer, and how your existing customers experience you. When you highlight specific company executives—perhaps as thought leaders in the industry—you’re showing prospective customers that your brand is supported by industry experts. When you write blogs on industry-related topics, you’re communicating that you’re consistently investing in the growth of your industry and that you’re informed about new trends or ideas. 

Related post: The Ultimate Guide to Community Management For Marketers

With strategic public relations, you can build trust by making connections with industry leaders (like writers, reporters, and publications that shape the way the industry progresses). Most companies will choose a primary spokesperson to represent the brand, which can improve trust by giving customers someone to relate to and a consistent personality within your brand that they can engage with. Trust is a critical foundation that you can build even in a time of crisis.

Play the long game.

During a recession, the sales cycle gets longer as buyers become more careful. One of the best ways to recession-proof your marketing strategy is to remember that you’re in it for the long haul. Be sure that you’re working to reach your customers on multiple channels over a long period of time. 

This can feel stressful, especially in a time of recession. If you’re already working to mitigate risk, you want to see results quickly so you can determine if your investment was worthwhile. 

But sometimes, marketing just doesn’t work that way. 

Studies have shown that consumers are spending more time in the exploration and evaluation phases of buying, which makes the sales journey longer. Don’t give up on your B2B marketing strategy just because you don’t see immediate results. Your strategy is likely to have an impact, but it can be hard to measure. That leads us to our next point: understanding dark social.

Remember the importance of dark social. 

In a nutshell, dark social is when content is shared on private channels instead of public channels. How does this affect marketing in a time of recession? Well, it can skew your numbers and make you think that marketing isn’t working when it’s really doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes. 

Before you abandon ship, remember that dark social is one of the biggest and most important channels through which consumers are making purchasing decisions. It’s difficult to track because most available marketing technology cannot track private channels—and for good reason (no one likes being spied on). Just remember that your buyers are out there, discussing your products and services with their peers and making decisions in their private DMs, channels, and groups. You have to embrace dark social in order to succeed in the current digital era and to weather the challenges that come with times of recession. 

Here’s the bottom line: you can win at marketing during a recession. Changes to consumer behavior and priorities spur marketers to come up with newer, better, and more creative marketing tactics. Let this be the case for you and your company. As you prepare for the recession that experts are predicting, don’t throw out your marketing strategy in an effort to reduce costs. 

Like we said at the beginning of this article: too many leaders cut out marketing to save pennies, with detrimental results. Eventually, recessions lift, and your company will come out on the other side. Do the work necessary to prepare for both the challenges of recession and the day that the recession ends. If you make these critical mindset shifts and stay committed to your marketing strategy, you’ll succeed. Double down on the work that you are doing, and you’ll come out of the recession stronger than ever before.

Need help marketing through a recession? We’re happy to help.

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