How do you market in a recession?


This topic is most likely going to be a little bit controversial because at the moment, we’re not in a recession but because marketing is a game that is constantly shifting and constantly evolving. Sadly, market events in world events and things like that are going to not only affect the economy, but they’re also going to affect all the way down to your business. 


For example, if you have any kind of local business sourcing products from China, you’ve probably had a really tough time getting products from China with all this crazy Coronavirus. If you’re a contractor and you wear masks on a daily basis, you’ve probably had a tough time getting masks. Like local painters. They can’t even get their hands on painting masks. 


At the time of this writing, the stock market just took another massive nosedive. And it’s been that way for the last couple of weeks. Many experts say that a recession is right around the corner. So whether that recession comes or not, is irrelevant. I want to give you some tips on:

  • How do you market in a recession? 
  • How do you market in a down economy? 
  • How do you market when fear is the dominant emotion in both your brain but also the brain of your consumer or your customer or the business on the other side.

The first thing, In my opinion, is that the last thing that you want to do, personally, is to cut your marketing budget. Sadly, that is one of the first things that people do. In a recession when I’m saying “people” I’m referring to small business owners, local business owners like you. Now, I’ve said this many times in the past, I want you to do things that your competitors are just not doing or they’re not willing to do. If your competitor is going to follow suit and most likely they are going to scale back their marketing. If you stay the course, you are going to grab more market share than everyone else. If they’re scaling back and you are not, it is the absolute best time to grab market share. So that is rule number one, I do not want you to cut your marketing budget unless you really, really have to. But I’m really hoping that you can stay the course. 


From a mindset standpoint, you’ve got to keep in mind that your prospects, they’re going to feel a little bit more poor. So they’re going to be more frugal, they’re going to be more cautious. What you really want to do is focus a lot more on your customer, and the languaging that you’re using. Talk more about family values. And this is where local businesses tend to actually be able to really compete head to head against some of the other big chains. 


For example, focus on family values, focus on the fact that you’re a local business that you’re experiencing hard times, just like them, but let them know.

You’re going to get through it. You’re going to get through this together. From a pricing standpoint, you might have to look at adjusting your price a little bit. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to cut all your prices, but maybe you’ve got to offer some temporary promotions. If you sell things in quantity, for example, maybe you have to offer some different discounts. You’re gonna have to play with your price a little bit, at least for the short term. Whether that is one off promotions, 20% off coupons, different things like that, that maybe you normally haven’t had to do. 


Try to take a look and just re analyze your margins, analyze your pricing a little bit. You might have to start to offer credit. You might have to start to offer payment terms. Again, this is all going to vary based on the business niche that you serve. Some businesses are much more prone to being able to weather recession. Funeral homes for example, are pretty much recession proof. However, if you had the Rolls Royce of caskets versus more of the entry level model, you’re going to have to know that probably more of your entry to mid range products are going to be selling better in the short term. But people aren’t going to stop having funerals and things like that. It just isn’t going to happen. But if you’re a restaurant, people are going to start eating out less. If you’ve got luxury accommodations are your high end, Airbnb or b&b. You’re going to have to look at being a little bit more creative with your offers and playing with your pricing.


You’ve got to adjust stuff as you see fit when a recession hits, something that your customers and prospects can kind of use, potentially in a couple of different ways to kind of spread things out. If you’ve got something that is like “buy one, get nine free” or something like that. And that’s again it more if you’re in the retail space. 


In this type of environment, you’ve got to be very cautious with your words. Again, going back to those family values, talk about your core values as a business. You’ve got to get a little bit more heart in your business, if that is missing. It’s not that people all of a sudden have no money at all. That doesn’t magically happen overnight. It’s that perception that they are feeling poor. 


Going back to point number one, emphasize that especially depending on how things play out over the coming weeks and months. Maintain the course on your marketing, spending. When your competitors are cutting back, this is the time that you’re going to grab their customers, the customers of your competitors. Grab them while everyone else is scaling back. 


This could be the best time to market your business, there could be literally weeks or months around the corner that we might not see for quite some time thereafter. I encourage you to get ahead of this and start preparing.