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A decade is a long time. That’s how much time has passed since the last time businesses faced the big “R” word: recession. Unemployment skyrockets, spending is reduced, and businesses are challenged to find a way to keep going. The last time we encountered a recession over 170,000 small businesses bit the dust.
One thing is certain: we can’t keep doing things like normal. Normal has been disrupted – rather abruptly compared to any previous economic downturn Americans have experienced.
Every business begins looking for places to cut expenses to balance the books in hopes of surviving this time of uncertainty. Anecdotally, marketing is usually one of the first departments to get cut. I’m betting that is the case for many – especially those 170,000 businesses that closed up shop a decade ago.
The truth is: people still buy things. Some industries are being absolutely hammered today as we see a pandemic unfold, sparking this recession. Others are doing okay and still need services.
Consumers are still spending – perhaps just differently than they were a month ago. The vast majority of Americans still have an income. The vast majority of businesses still have money coming in the door and need goods and services.
How do you reach those consumers?
We first opened our doors here at Engenius right when the 2008 recession hit. We grew up learning to adapt, change, pivot, and learning first hand the importance of keeping a steady marketing team.
Here are five marketing considerations based on our own experience of not only surviving but thriving in times of uncertainty:

1. Reposition your Marketing Spend

Don’t dare cut marketing – but make sure what you spend is being spent smart. Is each marketing channel measurable? What is producing ROI? Where have your competitors cut their own marketing? Be thinking: how can I take advantage of competitors cutting their own marketing to increase my market share with certain audiences?

2. Invest in Digital

As commutes and social activities become a thing of the past and people are staying home, their use of the internet is surging. In a recent Pew Research study, 93% of Americans said their connection to the internet is absolutely crucial during this pandemic. People are online – more than ever according to a recent New York Times assessment. Is your marketing online?

3. Assess Your Markets

Whether the current industries you serve have been affected or not, are there other industries that might now be a good fit for your goods or services? Recessions cause every business to reevaluate things, including how they go about business. Think creatively about how you can provide value within new markets and craft a marketing strategy to target those businesses. If you’re in the B2C market, consider demographics, regions and locales, and average price point that may have shifted.

4. Consider How You Package Goods and Services

Most restaurants are following a sage trend: offer family take-out, not just your traditional menu. Many consumers aren’t ordering like they once did when they are relaxed and out to eat as a family. They’ve been at home all day and want to avoid preparing their own dinner.
Create offerings that suit where your customers are mentally and emotionally. Even high-end clothiers are catching on – now offering complete outfits to relax at home in style (or for your Zoom meetings). Whether you’re B2B or B2C, how can you package (or re-package) your goods and services to meet people where they are right now?

5. Brand Recognition Still Counts

Keep your brand visible at all costs. As other less wise companies ravage their marketing budgets and cut advertising, they will disappear from consumers’ minds. Be one of the brands that continue to be visible and felt when others become ghosts. People are still reading media (perhaps more so than normal). Push press releases. Push ads in strategic areas. Be visible and promote top of mind awareness.
Businesses that are smart during this time can not only come through this downturn in a good position but have an amazing opportunity to gain market share among competitors that aren’t keeping up. Be the business that comes out ahead. We need for you to – somebody’s gotta be in a good position to hire everyone who used to work for companies that didn’t care to invest in marketing.

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