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October 10, 2022 - By Jesse McCarl

How to Successfully Market Your Business in a Recession

Whether you fought to stay afloat during the Great Recession or simply heard the horror stories, you likely well know that it’s a big mistake to stop marketing in a recession. But that doesn’t mean you should keep on doing what you’ve always done. The marketing tactics that work best during days of excess fail to hit the mark when wallets snap closed.

If you want to not just survive – but thrive – through the next recession, you need to get ready to change up your marketing approach to best weather the storm.

To do that, you must learn what effective marketing looks like during a recession – and we’re here to help. Here’s all you need to know about how to market your business during a downturn.

Realign Your Marketing Focus for True Success

With the recession driving up prices while decreasing sales, all the wiggle room in your marketing budget goes straight out the window. You really don’t have any room for error, so you need great results from every campaign.

To ensure that happens, realign your marketing focus to verify all your efforts are worth the expense. Fortunately, that’s quite easy to accomplish by keeping a close eye on these key areas:

Revenue Attribution  

Conversion tracking will always remain a great way to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. But during a recession, it’s simply not enough.

You need to start looking at revenue attribution as well to determine how well your campaigns help your brand make money. Instead of looking at clicks alone, this tracking method follows the dollars to see what resonates most with your customers.

If you use revenue attribution while running A/B testing, you can predict how well your campaigns will perform before putting your all into each one. With that move, you’ll avoid investing in the wrong approach, saving you money while maximizing revenues.

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer loyalty is king during a recession, and for good reason. Existing customers spend up to 2/3 more on average than new clients. And attracting their business costs up to 10 times less than trying to get new customers to complete their first purchase.

You can see this for yourself by calculating customer lifetime value. To find that figure, multiply the average customer lifespan by their customer value. (Hint: to find the customer value, multiply their average purchase total by their average purchase frequency.)  

Now, look at the cost of acquiring a one-time customer vs repeat business. You’ll see that your efforts to nurture customer loyalty offer much higher returns than attracting new customers does.

Don’t forget to calculate your overall marketing return on investment as well. Then, compare your current ROI to past figures to see how well you’ve minimized expenses without compromising on results.

Best Practices for Marketing During a Downturn   

Now that you know how to gauge the success of your campaigns, it’s time to renew your approach to align with the following best practices for marketing in a recession.

Shift to a Digital Marketing Approach

Digital marketing services allow you to instantly leverage multiple channels while closely monitoring performance metrics across the board. Beyond that, there are no big media buy-ins nor lead time in making changes, allowing you to adjust your approach on the fly.

So, it’s definitely the safest way to keep marketing during a downturn. Just remember that you must meet your customers wherever they prefer to spend their time online to get the best results. If you’re marketing to Gen Z, for example, then TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest are where you’ll get the most engagement.

Keep an Eye on Your Competitors

Impulsive purchases decline markedly as the recession impacts consumers’ bottom line. Your clients are more likely to research products and services before buying as they hunt for the best deals, value, and customer experience.

If you want to win their business, you’re going to need to know everything about your competitors.


  • What products and services do they offer?
  • How do their offerings compare to your own?
  • How are their items priced – and where do they add value?
  • Where are they focusing their marketing efforts?
  • What is the customer experience like?

Then, go above and beyond their approach while setting your brand apart from the competition. Or risk losing the battle for customers perhaps once and for all.

Highlight Product Value and Savings

While marketing in a recession, it’s more important than ever to highlight the value of your products and services. Pair that with a focus on savings for your customers and you’ll win out over your competitors.

To do that, shift your messaging to a value-based formula that highlights benefits above all else. Think about how your products and services solve problems for your customers.

Then, communicate how your customers’ lives will improve by simply completing the purchase. Finally, wrap it all up with a promo code or other sweet offer to sweeten the deal even more.  

Consistently Leverage Social Proof

As customers do their online research, social proof helps build trust in your brand while easily resolving all their questions and concerns. In fact, for over 90% of customers, reading online reviews is a must before committing to a purchase.  

To have the biggest impact, prospective customers shouldn’t have to dig for the accolades either. You need to make social proof stand out wherever your brand lands online.

From your website to your social media pages, your brand should have loyal customers singing your praises for all to see. To get the ball rolling, ask your customers to share their experience with your company, and then use the feedback to elevate your online presence.   

Follow Through with Lead Nurturing

Since repeat customers are so important when marketing in a recession, make lead nurturing a top priority. You can do that by providing your customers with direct support as they move through each stage of the sales funnel.

You might want to start by:

  • Creating targeted content that speaks to the interests and goals of your customers
  • Rolling out marketing campaigns on multiple channels for regular engagement  
  • Sending a series of personalized emails after certain touchpoints in your campaign
  • Aligning your sales team with your marketing strategies to improve correspondence

If you use marketing automation software, a lead scoring strategy can help as well. You can then greatly improve your rate of return by deciding where in the buyer’s journey to focus more of your marketing efforts.

Need Help Recession Proofing Your Marketing Efforts?

When you take the time to dial in your approach, your efforts will undoubtedly produce a recession-proof marketing program. You can then roll out the new approach as needed to overcome any downturns that come your way.

Need help getting your marketing campaigns into shape? Our team at Hawke Media can help with that. We’re always happy to take your marketing to the next level using our month-to-month and ala carte services. To get started, fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today.  

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