Zig while your competition Zags: How to market your company during a recession.

Many forecasters say that a recession is coming. During a recession or any other turbulent economic situation, businesses often put their marketing budgets on the chopping block.

On its face, that sounds like sound financial advice. However, data shows that brands that continued marketing investments during the last recession saw ROI growth in back-to-back years (analyticpartners.com).

While your competitors are reacting to the recession and cutting advertising, do the opposite.

This isn’t a call to continue marketing as you would in the best economic conditions —you clearly need to rethink your strategy to focus on the situation you’re in— but I am  recommending you maintain a healthy marketing budget during this period of uncertainty. Take time to really analyze and think about how you can continue to thrive during challenging economic times and come out on top of your competition after it is over.

The biggest mistake, for most companies, would be to cut marketing out completely. Customers are still looking for your products and services even if they can’t afford to purchase them right now.

Remember that a recession is temporary. If you maintain your marketing, advertising, and outreach you’ll become the go-to option for your customers when they are ready to buy again. You will have a head start at the end of the recession while your competitors are scrambling to restart their marketing.

Here are some marketing tips to use during a recession that will keep you front of mind for customers:

Analyze the competition

Look at the competition’s SEO

SEO is the most evergreen of any digital marketing tool. An investment made now will pay off in the months and years to follow. Further, a smart investment to diligently work on your SEO while your competitors are pulling back can drive an even better return on investment.

A Competitive SEO Analysis looks at what your competitors are doing online to drive organic traffic. Tools like SEM Rush and others, allow you to see the keywords, content, and backlinks that drive traffic to your competition. After analyzing this data, you can see what’s working for them and make informed decisions on building an SEO strategy to improve your rankings, traffic, and customer engagement.

Analyze the messaging and positioning of their products and services

You probably know this by now, but customers are looking for brands that can stand on their own and aren’t just a facsimile of another competitor. Looking at the way your competitors talk about your industry, their products and services, and their company, can help you form a unique voice and separate you from the competition.

There are also unique opportunities to reposition yourself and improve your brand during a crisis. For example, during COVID, many of the larger streaming services started releasing movies directly to their platforms. This made the lives of people stuck at home a little better, improved their overall brand perception, and increased their subscription numbers.

Invest in content

Be educational and become a resource for customers

With Google’s newest “Helpful Content Update” it’s important for businesses to provide value to their customers. Helpful content will become one of the most important factors in your website’s SEO.

Remember that your customers will still be doing research and looking for your products and services when the tide turns, so helping them better understand your industry and why your product or service will fit their needs will help create better engagement and loyalty.

Be authentic in your messaging and offerings

Customers love a story and all businesses have a unique perspective. Create content unique to your company’s products and services, company culture, and insights into your industry.

Focus on Customer Experience

Make it easy for them to get what they want

Invest in some CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) to make sure your customers can find the information they need quickly and your calls to action are clear. CRO will also help you see what’s working and what’s not, and how you can improve your customer experience on your website.

Continue to engage with your customers

Develop outreach programs through social media, or create newsletters that contain helpful tips and tricks for customers that will drive them back to your site. You can create whole campaigns around a set of topics that will encourage them to interact with you on social media, on your website, or both. The more engagement you have with your customers, or potential customers, the more likely they are to recommend your products and services.

Partner with a Digital Marketing Agency

A cost-effective way to get a lot of your marketing done

Agencies have the expertise, experience, and staff to accomplish your marketing objectives. As an extension of your team, they will have experts in a variety of disciplines like SEO, CRO, paid advertising, design, and development.  You’ll be able to focus on the big picture while your agency partner does the critical analysis and tactical work.

If you do need to make the tough decision of scaling back your in-house team, having an agency partner ensures you can keep momentum. They will also have the legacy knowledge about your marketing pre and post-recession while there is employee turnover.

Flexible with your needs

Agencies are flexible with their customers when there’s uncertainty.

A digital marketing agency can shift priorities quickly and is able to scale services as your marketing needs change over time. They typically offer different pricing models (retainer, project-based, or hourly) depending on your needs.


Effective marketing during a downturn in the economy is essential for your business to be successful, both short-term and after the situation passes. As customers and businesses begin to spend more money on the goods and services they need, they will be looking for the brands and companies that stayed visible during the recession. By keeping a healthy marketing budget and employing some of the digital marketing tactics discussed above, your company will be front of mind and the preferred choice. Take advantage of this time to grow your business and customer awareness while your competitors slink back into the shadows. If you’re still unsure what you should do during a recession, or want to find out more about ways to better grow and serve your clients, we’re here to help!


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