3 Tips to Master Marketing During a Recession

by Katy French

Marketing during a recession is incredibly frustrating. Customers are tightening their belts, businesses are struggling to maintain their bottom line, and marketing budgets are often on the chopping block. Despite all these obstacles, you can still create good marketing, gain footing in your market, and emerge even stronger—if you double down on creating marketing content that provides the most value to your audience.

While this rule applies to marketing at any time, it’s especially important during an economic downturn. We most recently saw this play out during the Pandemic, when the smartest brands became supportive resources for their audiences—and forged stronger bonds because of it. Unfortunately, many marketing teams are functioning out of fear right now, when they should look at this time as an opportunity to experiment. 

That was the sentiment shared by Michelle Kim, Vice President of Brand Design at VideoAmp, on her recent episode of our Best Story Wins podcast. Kim’s team takes experimentation seriously, but they do so with intention, always putting their audience first—something we admire greatly in these times. In fact, Kim reminded us that now is not the time for brands to rest on their laurels. Instead, she shared three key tips to do successful marketing during a recession, which we’re sharing with you in hopes that it will help your team become as successful as VideoAmp. 

3 Tips to Do Successful Marketing During a Recession

If these last few months have felt like a struggle, you’re not alone. Luckily, this is a great time to reassess your efforts and ensure you’re doing the right things to reach the right people. Here are three key ways to do that. 

1) Listen to what people really need. 

Frankly, at times like this, what you’re selling doesn’t matter. During a recession, people’s priorities shift. They are more concerned about their financial stability and their basic needs. (In the B2B space, that translates to job security.) As a marketer, it is essential to listen to what your target audience is saying and adapt your messaging accordingly.

Tip: Re-examine your marketing personas to look at your customers’ pain points and desires. How might those be affected by a recession? What do they need more support to do? What are they looking to escape? What marketing content might help them navigate things more easily? Choose three key pain points and brainstorm content ideas to cater to their needs. (You can start with these 10 tips to help your audience during a challenging time.) Note: Things like templates, tools, and resource roundups can be especially helpful content to help eliminate stress and make things easier to accomplish.  

2) Provide a sense of security.

Recessions are scary, turbulent, and disruptive. Thus, people are looking for stability and security. They want to know they can trust the businesses they are dealing with and that their money is being well spent. As a marketer, it is essential to provide your customers with a sense of security and cultivate trust.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses pivoted their marketing efforts to focus on health and safety measures, knowing that was their audience’s biggest concern. Restaurants highlighted their contactless delivery options, while retailers promoted their online shopping platforms. By understanding their customers’ concerns, these businesses were able to provide a sense of security and reassure their customers that they were taking their safety seriously.

Tip: Trust can come in many forms. It’s not just about brand integrity or the reliability of your product/service. Demonstrating that you understand what they’re going through or sharing the unique solutions you’ve found for those same problems helps people feel more understood and connected to you. Customer stories are an especially effective way to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing—and have helped others to the same. See our tips to tell compelling customer success stories that will convert your audience.

3) Offer a moment of joy.

In tough times, people need something to lift their spirits and provide a moment of escape. As a marketer, you can offer this by creating campaigns that bring joy and happiness to your customers. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this, and they don’t all have to take an enormous amount of time or resources. 

Tip: One easy way to generate joy is to create content that is entertaining and inspiring. Think of sharing inspiring stories or user-generated content that showcases your customers’ positive experiences with your brand. Humor is also a powerful tool that can help people relax and forget about their worries, even if only for a moment. Your social accounts are a great place to share things like behind-the-scenes of your culture, relatable memes, pet pics, company playlists, or other things that bring a bit of levity to people’s lives. 

You might also consider creating campaigns that give back to the community. During a recession, many people are struggling, and charitable campaigns can uplift people’s spirits and bring a sense of community. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that a recession is not a reason to do less. While you may be inclined to white-knuckle your way through it and simply hold the course, this is a great excuse to try something new and different. (It can also be a great time to realign your team and strengthen your brand.) 

No matter what’s happening outside your company walls, your best bet is to always focus on your customers’ needs and look for creative ways to serve them. Most importantly, make sure you have the marketing infrastructure you need to create high-quality content consistently. Whether that means strengthening your processes internally or bringing in an expert partner (take a look at our FAQs if you want to start your search with us), focus on unique storytelling that speaks to your audience’s needs and you will always be ahead of your competition. 

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