6 Reason to NOT Scale Back on Marketing During a Recession

January 20, 2023

6 Reason to NOT Scale Back on Marketing During a Recession

January 20, 2023

If you have been paying attention to the headlines lately you’ve been seeing “Are We Heading Into a Recession?” all over the place. People way smarter than us are debating this potential economic reality. If we are going into a recession, it’s important to be ready for it. As a business owner or a marketing manager, when we hear the term RECESSION, it’s natural to think of tightening budgets, halting spending and preparing for the worst.  I’m here to encourage you to resist these temptations and in this blog, I’ll explain why.


First, let’s start by identifying some of the signs of a recession:

  • Decrease in customer spending
  • Loss in consumer confidence
  • Spike in unemployment rate 
  • Decline of manufacturing activity
  • Drop in personal income due to job loss
  • Less value placed on “things”
  • Dip in the earnings of businesses en masse. 

Recession to Rich

My goal is to give you the confidence to keep doing what you’re doing, even in times of recession.  As we know, in business - consistency is key.  We need to fight the urge to pull back our efforts and stay on track.  Here’s why:

  1. Maintaining Brand Awareness: Recession or not, your clients need to know you exist.  Traditionally, a recession can cause consumers to be more cautious with their spending, but by continuing to market your company, you can make sure that they are aware of your brand and the products or services you offer.  Just because they are spending less, doesn’t mean they aren’t spending at all. If they don’t know you exist, good luck getting them to buy from you. As for your regular customers, you want them to still be engaged in your brand, even in slimmer times. Otherwise a competitor who does continue with their marketing might snatch them up! 

  1. Establishing a Competitive Advantage: By continuing to market your company during a recession, you can differentiate yourself from your competition and establish a competitive advantage. Your competitors are scared, it’s likely that they will decrease their marketing budgets. That, my friend, is an opportunity for you! Don’t strike when they are strong, strike when they are weak!

  1. Building Customer Loyalty: By continuing to communicate with your customers during a recession, you can build customer loyalty and ensure that they will continue to support your company even during difficult economic times. As your customers are also feeling the recession, they need a strong leader in their life willing to entertain and educate them. Continue telling them good stories and you’ll build life-long customer connections. 

  1. Generating Revenue: Marketing can help drive sales and generate revenue for your company, which is crucial during a recession when business may be slow. This one is obvious but it’s worth mentioning. If you are in a storm, it is your job to keep the boat afloat. Keep the boat above water and moving, you just might get out of the storm before anyone else. 

  1. Cost Cutting: With some strategic planning, marketing can be a cost-effective way to reach out to your target audience and can often be cheaper than traditional means of advertising allowing you to cut expensive ad costs while still reaching customers. It’s easy to let a marketing manager do their thing and not really pay attention BUT, I believe this is your chance to truly understand what they are doing. You can become a heck of a lot more creative in this area and this will pay off in the years to come. Also, everything is cheaper in a recession so you should be able to stretch your dollar further. 

  1. Maintaining Market Share: By continuing to market your company during a recession, you can help maintain your market share and position yourself for growth when the economy improves. It’s SOOOO freaking difficult to overtake a position in a sector. Recessions give you a chance to level-up and surpass your rivals. Even if you don’t end up growing your position in the market, staying consistent will mean that at least you won’t lose your current ground. I would hate to see your competitors outsmart you because you were too nervous to act.

As promised, here are a few examples of companies that took advantage of a recession and marketed themselves above their competitors. 

  1. Netflix - In 2008, this company was not the film and tv mega monster we know today. Isn’t that bananas to think of? It launched in 2007 under the name Watch Now. While stocks were crashing all around them, Netflix was up 57% by 2009. Two of the major factors were Netflix’s strong branding and their strong understanding of their subscriber base. 
  2. Amazon - In 2007 we saw this American tech company launch a new product, the Kindle.  The Kindle was a huge success but only made up a small fraction of Amazon's revenue. What Kindle was, was a good story (Marketing 101). The conversation around the Kindle helped the continued rise of the online Juggernaut. 
  3. Dollar Shave Club (DSC). The company was founded in 2011, during the Great Recession, and quickly gained popularity by offering a more affordable alternative to traditional razor brands.They had a direct-to-consumer business model and an extremely compelling marketing strategy. Additionally, the company's unique and humorous marketing approach, including its viral launch video, helped it to quickly gain a large customer base. DSC ended up selling to Unilever for a reported $1 billion.

The one thing I’d like you to take away from this is - THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO STRIKE. Understand that weak competitors are vulnerable competitors. While we are all being dragged into deep waters, the most resilient of us will come out on top! Recessions are a war of attrition and strategy. It’s’ a time to go all in and force the competition to fold. Is that enough symbolism for you??? 

Let’s end with this quote from some legendary  business minds.

“A recession is very bad for publicly traded companies, but it's the best time for startups. When you have massive layoffs, there's more competition for available jobs, which means that an entrepreneur can hire freelancers at a lower cost.”

  • Tim Ferriss

“In times of recession there are massive opportunities and fortunes to be made so for new up and coming entrepreneurs, this is the time to go and start a business.”

  • Richard Branson

I thought of a quote of my own…

“Cutting your marketing budget is like holding your cell phone up to your butt and trying to have a conversation - it makes zero sense.”

  • Cliff Skelliter

That’s all I got for now. Please share this blog you donkeys, and I look forward to chatting soon. 

Stay Dope

Cliff Skelliter aka Cliffnotes


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