Is Your Marketing Budget Recession-Proof?

Published on February 25, 2020

Will there be a recession in 2020? While we don’t know for certain, there are experts who warn it’s possible because of slowing economic growth trends abroad. If there is a recession, market leaders such as Nike and Apple will end up okay. But what if you’ve just started your business and you’re trying to make waves in your respective industry?

During the last recession in 2008, a study done by the UK’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) found that cutting a marketing budget won’t affect a brand over the first few years. In fact, a brand could even see a dangerously misleading profit increase in the short term, but, even though you can’t see the effects right away, the long-term business harm will be considerable. When the IPA looked at two key brand relationship metrics, brand usage and brand image, they saw that brands who completely cut their marketing in 2008 suffered significantly for a period of six months or more.

We’re not in 2008, though, and social media is far more sophisticated and pervasive now, which allows for low-cost marketing that was not nearly so available in 2008 or 2009. If the economy takes an unfortunate turn and a recession hits, even a new or small business doesn’t have to follow its competitors and cut its marketing budget. Here’s how you can maintain your marketing momentum no matter what is happening with the economy.

Give Outsourcing a Shot

When the going gets tough, you’re not going to want to keep your marketing in-house. The cost to keep a full marketing team can really add up. If you’re outsourcing your marketing, you don’t have to worry about paying each member of your marketing team a full salary. You just have to pay for the marketing package from the agency of your choice.

Focus on Product Differentiation

If you have an amazing product and a great brand, from the candy industry to the manufacturing industry and beyond, consumers will always buy from you. Even in a recession when you have less spending money, you’re going to buy from the top five brands you care about. If you have a product or service that’s a leader in your respective market, keep making that same quality product or executing on that same quality service, and come up with advertisements that entice your audience.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

If your brand campaigns focus on the psychological attraction to your brand and remind people what your brand makes them feel like, you can inspire your customers to continue to buy when their pockets aren’t as full as usual. If you’re a smaller brand that’s not leading your market, using ads to communicate value and benefit to consumers will help you stand out from the noise of your competitors. When you see an idea that works, though, even if it is from one of your competitors, use it because as the great Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

Look Into Recession Analytics

How will you be able to generate sales and revenue when people are reluctant to spend? Once you define who your audience is, you’re going to want to take a deep-dive into your analytics to understand where your audience is shopping and what they’re buying. Take into consideration what makes what they’re buying worth buying—like if you’re a running shoe company, how could you make a shoe more stylish and comfortable, with the same value and benefit, than Nike?

Utilize Free Outlets in Recession

There are so many components of marketing that you don’t have to spend a dime on. Maximize your social media—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and beyond—using the same enticing methods you use for advertising, and leverage your followers while keeping an eye out for potential partners who may follow your social channels. Write insightful blog content on your blog and on guest blogs, make videos with inspiring or sentimental value, craft dynamic emails,  and sign up to speak at and/or be on panels at conferences in your industry.

Maximizing your use of the incredible free marketing resources at our disposal in 2020, diving into the audience and market analytics, standing out from your industry competitors with your product or service, and considering taking your marketing out of the office are all great marketing tactics regardless of whether the economy is crashing or thriving. Really, how you run your marketing campaigns and budgets in bad times is how you should be running them all of the time. You don’t have to wait for a recession to make it happen.

CEO & Founder Erik Huberman is a member of Grit Daily's Leadership Network. He launched Hawke Media in 2014, which is now valued at over $150 million. As a serial entrepreneur and marketing expert, Erik has been recognized by his industry peers through honors and awards including, Forbes Magazine’s 30Under30, CSQ’s 40Under40, and Inc. Magazine’s Top 25 Marketing Influencers.

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