Marketing in a Tough Economy


When the economy is tough, your marketing strategy needs to get more focused. Learn where your dollars count most.

When the economy is slow and your marketing budget is suddenly under a lot of scrutiny, it can be challenging to know how to prioritize your spending. Should you put more into customer acquisition or retention? Maybe it’s time to run some serious promotions.

While all of these questions are worth considering, now is the time for a disciplined, focused approach to marketing. Rather than pull back on your budget, it’s time to determine how to make the most of your spending so that once the economy is back in full swing, and you know it will be, your brand has emerged as a clear leader.

Spend Smarter. While you may not be reducing your marketing spending, you may experience an increased pressure to demonstrate a solid return on investment. What are the most effective ways to invest right now?

  • Marketing automation is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with audiences. From targeted emails that foster personalized engagement to social media posts that require little hands-on monitoring, you can invest a little for a lot of time in front of customers.
  • Think retention, not just acquisition for a wise approach to marketing spending. It is far more cost-effective to keep customers and expand the services or products they’re purchasing from you. From a marketing and sales perspective, retention always feels a bit less thrilling than acquiring a new client, but maybe you should consider some new focus on highlighting and celebrating acquisition and expansion with existing customers.
  • Update evergreen content for a budget-friendly way to get the most out of your existing pieces. Did you have a blog post or a video that was particularly well-received by audiences? This is a great time to remind people of your value as a leader in your industry and repurpose some content. You’ll engage with your audiences without spending a lot.

Get Visible. Compared to more traditional forms of marketing, social media and email marketing are inexpensive ways to get in front of your audiences on a regular basis and build engagement with them. The Exposure Effect says that your audiences are more likely to convert to customers simply by being more familiar with your brand and products.

Run the Opposite Direction. Along the same lines, the Exposure Effect is sure to be more powerful if your competitors aren’t investing in the same way. Many companies will take a short view of their marketing strategies and make the mistake of cutting budgets. This is a perfect time for you to differentiate yourself just by being present in front of your audiences.

You may be seeing your competitors running a lot of promotions, causing you to wonder if you should do the same. The problem is that price wars tend to outrun cycles of the economy, so it’s not a great idea to start differentiating yourself on price if that’s not a core component of your brand identity. Don’t follow the crowd, or you may find that you’re making short-term gains that result in an ongoing problem that will plague your brand far past a recession.

Focus on Content. What are your competitors not talking about right now? Use this time to stand out as an expert in your industry, giving insights into the topics others won’t touch. Maybe it’s providing a unique perspective on a hot topic, or an insider’s look at how certain things in your industry have changed. Maybe while everyone else is lamenting the state of the economy, you’re taking the bull by the horns and pursuing growth.

You should also get more focused on segmenting your audience so that your content is hitting exactly the topics they need at the moment. Maybe you’re creating content for specific job roles, or for where your leads are in their buying journey.

Measure Your Efforts. Again, you may be in a time of heightened attention on your marketing return on investment, so this is a good time to be able to back up your activities with some numbers.

It’s a good time to clean up your Google Analytics data. Have you clearly outlined your goals, and does what you’re measuring align with those goals? Make sure you are taking full advantage of the free data that Google Analytics offers.

Be ready to demonstrate how your social media spending is contributing to growth. If you’re working from more general, harder to measure goals like brand awareness and visibility, also include a goal or two related to conversions or profitability so that you can easily justify your social media spending.

You may also want to clean up how you’re testing your marketing activities. You always want to test to be sure you’re headed in the right direction, but look for ways to make testing quicker and cheaper, and streamline the process for pausing any activity that isn’t proving effective. Your “wait and see” timeline will likely become much shorter.

Remember that when the economy bounces back, and it always, always does, you want to be able to see a clear marketing strategy that led to you becoming a leader in your industry. This is not a time for shrinking back, but boldly claiming your place in the market.

At SJC Marketing, we love to come up with zany campaigns or play around with color schemes and funny taglines. But at the heart of everything we do is strategy. We are all about having fun, but when it’s time to get laser-focused, you’ll be glad we’re on your team. Our team would love to have a strategy consultation with you!