Marketing During Recessions: Time For Bold Moves, Creativity

A hand draws on a high-tech screen to illustrate Marketing During Recessions

There’s much chatter lately about the likelihood of an impending economic recession. Sometimes it seems like that’s a never-ending discussion in the U.S. One can get whiplash bouncing back and forth and back again in America’s boom-and-bust economy. It sometimes feels as if we’re emerging from a recession or about to head into another one.

For businesses, this uncertainty makes for much insecurity, especially when it comes to marketing during a recession. If we do find ourselves in another recession — and as of this writing, we don’t — we as business owners need to know how to navigate the troubled waters that will eventually, inevitably arise in the midst of an economic downturn.

To market or not to market during a recession — that is the question.

Marketing During Challenging Times

Some of the general advice we give our clients can be used during any sort of economic or social upheaval. For example, during the early days of the pandemic, we provided some advice that would work just as well during a prolonged economic recession.

  • Get your mind right. The success or failure of a company is dependent on leadership sustaining a positive and proactive mindset. Let’s not let fear drive our decision-making processes.
  • Be compassionate. Get in the minds and hearts of your customers. Understand how they have adapted to economic pressure so you can respond to their ongoing needs.
  • Get creative. Perhaps it’s time to tackle those digital marketing efforts you’ve thought about but haven’t tackled quite yet. For example, maybe it’s time to expand your social media marketing output.
  • Be present. Position your business to be ready for customers who are looking for your product or service online. Be ready to service the needs of those customers.

Growing your market share of a contracted economy may very well lead to a bigger share of the expanded market when it inevitably rebounds. It may take time, but you’ll get there.


In times of economic hardship — or even when discussing the possibility of economic hardship, either due to economic factors or pandemics — businesses can be tempted to cut back on their advertising spend.

Negative words related to economic trouble (crisi, crash, etc.) to illustrate Marketing During Recessions Time For Bold Moves, CreativityAfter all, if consumers are cutting back on spending or adjusting their spending habits— or if they’re going to be cutting back on spending — then why bother advertising?

By adopting this (seemingly reasonable) conservative approach to marketing budgets and ad spending, however, businesses may be missing out on opportunities to not just stay afloat but to actually increase their market share in the long run — and for the long term.

Let’s explore why it’s important to at least maintain — or, ideally, ramp up — one’s marketing efforts during a recession when consumer spending and budget cuts are top of mind for everybody. It’s time for some bold moves and lots of creativity.

How to Market During A Recession

Advertising is one of the best ways for brands to reach potential customers. During a recession, people may be more likely to pay attention to advertisements since they’re looking for ways to save money. This means that ads offering discounts or special offers promoted through social media could be especially effective during tough economic times.

Additionally, marketing campaigns that emphasize value and affordability — such as subscription-based services or free trials — could also prove successful to your customer base during a recession. Customers are always looking for price-sensitive ways to get the most bang for their buck. So rather than cutting costs, especially marketing costs, let’s consider ways to recession-proof one’s marketing strategies.

It is also worth noting that when other companies cut back on their advertising budgets, there will be less competition in the marketplace. This means that businesses that do choose to keep up with their marketing campaigns may enjoy an edge over their competitors who are not actively advertising during a recession.

A well-crafted and strategically implemented advertising strategy is key for any business, especially in times of economic hardship. By maintaining an active presence in the marketplace through targeted ads, businesses can ensure that they remain visible even when consumer confidence — and therefore, spending — is low.

We urge our clients to take advantage of marketing opportunities that present themselves during a recession. If you partner with a digital marketing agency, they should be able to identify marketing opportunities that resonate with consumers who are worried about their own bottom lines.Black woman looks positively at display of computer, writes down information from internet, wears optical glasses and black suit, sits at desktop with necessary things for work to illustrate Marketing During Recessions Time For Bold Moves, Creativity

These opportunities may not require additional costs, either; they may in fact represent a mere reshuffling or reprioritization of your current digital marketing efforts in order to capitalize on those things you are already doing.

Marketing during a recession may very well plant the seeds for brand and business growth down the line. Plus, it’s critical to maintain your brand’s presence and visibility in the marketplace.

Smaller businesses, especially, may reflexively cut back on marketing during a recession — and for good reason. After all, margins for small businesses can be small.

The Pros of Marketing During a Recession

As mentioned, advertising during a recession can help you stand out from the competition. If your competitors are cutting back on their advertising spend, you have an opportunity to capitalize on that by putting out more creative and effective campaigns. This will help you gain an edge in the marketplace and make your business more visible than ever before.

Remember, people still need products and services during recessions; they just tend to be more discerning about what they buy and how much they spend. By continuing to advertise, you can target those consumers who are most likely to purchase what you’re selling. This targeted approach can help you maximize your return on investment (ROI).

Additionally, allocating dollars toward digital marketing is a surefire way to continue gathering data on leads and conversions. This will inform future ad spend and help correlate marketing spend with subsequent leads and conversions.

In other words, you can think of marketing during a recession as not just a sales tactic but as a way to accrue important (and actionable) insights into consumer behavior as it relates to your marketing efforts.

Speaking of digital marketing, there may also be opportunities to maximize your cost per impression (CPM) or cost per click (CPC). We recommend chatting with your digital marketing provider for details.

The Cons of Advertising During a Recession

Of course, there are some drawbacks to consider as well when it comes to advertising during a recession. For one thing, consumer confidence is usually low when the economy isn’t doing well. This means people may not respond as favorably to advertisements as they normally would.

Furthermore, if your industry has been particularly hit hard by the recession (e.g., travel or hospitality), then any money spent on marketing may not bring in enough ROI to justify its cost — meaning that allocating resources elsewhere may be the wiser course of action.

Business owners must weigh the pros and cons of marketing during a recession. If done right, however, with careful consideration given to ROI calculations and consumer sentiment levels, then increasing your marketing efforts during a recession could prove immensely valuable.

Recessions offer us an opportunity to make noise in the marketplace, increasing the possibility of building your brand’s visibility and impact. Well-targeted ads can point consumers toward your products or services while they are researching their options.multiethnic Group of young business people throwing documents and looking happy while celebrating success at the office to illustrate Marketing During Recessions Time For Bold Moves, Creativity

Additionally, if you maintain your ad presence, you will be seen as an established brand that offers value and stability — two important qualities that consumers are looking for when making purchase decisions during a recession. This is a way to build additional brand loyalty; your ads can provide reassurance about the quality of your products and services and remind consumers why they should continue engaging with your business even during tough economic times.

Although it may seem counterintuitive at first glance, continuing to advertise during a recession could be beneficial for businesses — large and small alike.

Consider: fewer competitors in the marketplace; increased visibility for ads; being able to target potential customers more effectively; building customer loyalty through reassuring messaging. All these factors combined make it worth considering keeping up with advertising even in tough economic conditions. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each strategy and make an informed decision based on what works best for your business.