It’s never a welcome feeling to know that history is on the verge of repeating itself. Whatever your perspective on the current economic climate and how it affects your marketing, the truth is that there are a lot of factors in play echoing the sentiments that caused the 2009 global financial crisis.
Worse, ongoing concerns regarding labour shortages, the cost of living, rising energy and fuel costs as well as the overarching shadow of inflation are making companies and households tighten their belts as though it’s the late Aughts all over again.
Of course, the landscape of digital marketing has changed dramatically since the Great Recession – but how does that affect how to market to your target demographics in the precarious economic downturn being felt today?
As we will explore, the answers rest in a smart combination of strategies from the prior global financial crisis – coupled with new best practices to fit our post-pandemic society.
Downturn marketing demands a long term vision
Anyone who has worked in marketing for any length of time will realise that a huge element of finding success in this industry is staying adaptive. New surprises are in play all the time – and failing to adjust to those means disaster could be just around the corner.
One key mistake many companies make during a recession is to strip back their marketing budget too heavily. This makes sense – times are tough in any downturn, and marketing is a capital intensive industry.
However, slamming the brakes can actually harm your organisation’s long-term prospects. A recession doesn’t last forever – yet if you slash your marketing activities too much in the short term, you are also sacrificing your potential future position of strength.
Consider also that your competitors may well be curtailing their marketing activities in response to an economic downturn. If you stay loud while they quieten down, your brand voice stands a far better chance in the immediate term – essentially leapfrogging those marketers who are battening down the hatches, and cementing yourself in their customers’ minds instead.
Optimise your loyal customer base during a downturn
Naturally, our above point is not to suggest that marketing during a recession needs to be reckless. In fact, a more select and precise marketing strategy is exactly what a downturn demands.
One key area in which you can excel in that regard is by showing support and convenience to your existing customer base. Remember, they are worried too – people are incredibly anxious about the current downturn in the global economy, and its timing during a cost of living crisis couldn’t be worse for them.
Customer loyalty relies on trust and dependability. Pandering to customers or making too light of the recession is a dangerous game to play – as likely to alienate as to garner appreciation – but what a clever marketer can do is instead present their brand as a rock of solidarity during difficult times.
Encourage your customer base to face the recession with confidence
In most industries, anyone experiencing your marketing is not doing so in the hope that you are going to descend from on high and magically resolve all of their financial problems.
Instead, customers and clients want to feel reassured that they are being given the products, the services or the tools that they need to weather a downturn under their own initiative.
Don’t feel under pressure that your marketing should be geared towards solving every issue your customers ever face. Not only will you inevitably fail to deliver on such a far-reaching promise, through no fault of your own – but you will also come off as disingenuous, in a time where trustworthiness is at a greater premium than ever before.
Show your customers your products and services, describe to them how they will be able to use them to enjoy autonomy and comfort during the recession – and then stay out of their way, silently trusted to get the job done when your buyers need you next.
Focus your marketing on your niche demographics
Whether through a purposeful and laser targeted campaign, or as a happy accident as the result of a broad marketing strategy, every business in every industry eventually cultivates a niche kind of customer that perhaps was not expected.
During a downturn, your more broad reaching marketing incentives simply will not be landing with as much success – even if you have the best marketing minds in the world on your team.
However, now is the best time ever to learn and develop the means by which to really enjoy the benefits of niche demographics. Satisfying their needs and enjoying solid retention during the uncertainty that an economic downturn brings is going to be an incredibly solid survival strategy – both for your business, and for your niche customer’s needs.
You need to remain solid and consistent throughout the recession. You simply never know what your customers are going through, and how much they rely on your business for support – even if you sell leisure products that they use to help them cope with a difficult time of life.
Staying trustworthy during the storm of a recession
Unless you are exclusively marketing to Generation Z, chances are the majority of your target demographics consist of people old enough, and weary enough, to remember the Great Recession of a decade and a half ago.
Beleaguered by a global health crisis, political turmoil worldwide and out of control expenses in every area of life, customers during the coming economic downturn are likely to be emotionally exhausted and in need of a trustworthy hand through difficult waters.
Marketing during a recession is a delicate art, but you have every opportunity to make it your finest hour. Set goals and KPIs for what you want your brand to look like when the recession itself is over – and work out your marketing strategies in such a way that you weather the short term difficulties to emerge in a position of flourishing leadership on the flip side.