Planning a Marketing Strategy for Economic Uncertainty


During an economic downturn, whether it’s because of a pandemic, a recession, or any other unforeseen circumstance, business processes have to change. The problem is since no two downturns are exactly the same, no one solution is going to work for each one. Businesses need a marketing strategy that factors in uncertainty.

Consumers will react and behave a certain way, based on the situation. Businesses must understand what drives those behaviors and respond in a way that resonates with their customers and the public at large. Failure to act or misreading the cues can contribute to the uncertainty.

Bottom line, your marketing strategy will pave the way forward, for better or worse.

What to Cut? And at What Cost?

In an economic downturn, the marketing budget is often the first thing to go. Customers are spending less, and accounts are on hold. You are no doubt looking for ways to reduce costs until things inevitably swing back in your favor, but marketing should not be one of those.

According to a study of 1,000 companies who, during a recession, had either cut, maintained, or increased their marketing spending, research showed that profitability did not change much during the downturn for companies that kept their marketing budget at the same level.

The big changes came after things started to go back to normal.

Companies that cut their marketing spend during the downturn experienced a drop in profits. The ones that maintained their spending saw a slight gain in profits and those that increased their budgets gained significantly, putting them much further ahead of the competition by the time things got back up to speed.

Why Your Downturn Marketing Strategy is Important

As consumer priorities shift and spending decreases, you might not see the point in putting yourself out there. But in reality, it’s more important than ever to be heard.

The key to devising a message that resonates is to recognize what your customers are going through. You need to let them know that you understand.

The downturn we are dealing with right now is a prime example. The fact that we’re all going through the same thing makes it that much easier to put yourself in the public’s shoes.

For example, people are spending a lot of time on social media right now. Even if they are working from home, they are following current events and local news on social, and they are also using these platforms to communicate with their coworkers, friends, and, notably, the businesses they patronize.

Facebook and Instagram are great ways to get a message in front of your audience – an audience that has likely grown considerably, under the circumstances. Seen in this light, it might even be a good idea to increase your marketing budget to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Think about it. You won’t have to work nearly as hard to get people’s attention. They’re looking for things to do, diversions, something to distract them from the next wave of bad news. Dust off your ideal customer personas and figure out what they might be up to.

It might be the perfect time to introduce a new service, announce a special offer, or drop some value-added content such as educational webinars, aimed at arming your leads with information while establishing your firm as a subject matter expert. As a benefit you’ll likely see a gain in followers on social media or build your email list.

The keyword here is value. What people are looking for today, in the wake of the lockdown, is hope, and maybe a little guidance to help them shake the dust off their to-do list. Whether you cater to consumers or you’re a B2B company, this is your opportunity to be part of the solution. It’s about building—and strengthening—relationships.

The Show Must Go On – and So Should Your Marketing

Even though much of our routine has slowed to a crawl, companies are still doing business, and some of them are actually busier than they ever were. The businesses that were able to pivot are thriving in unexpected ways. It is this agility that will serve them well, even when this thing is finally behind us.

Here are the things that you should be thinking about:

  • What do you bring to the table that nobody else can do? Is it possible to carry that on despite the restrictions we’re all under?
  • What can you do to offer value to your customers and the community? Community involvement is always beneficial for local businesses, but in times of great need, even more so. Become a champion in your community, and you’ll never want for customers.

To gain public confidence, you have to project stability. Staying the course, maintaining contact, and striking an empathetic and helpful tone will give you a position of strength, one that will continue to bring gains well into the future.

Though it might be hard to see at first, there are plenty of opportunities out there if you think outside the box a little. And remember, your content marketing strategy should still be tied to concrete goals.

What You Shouldn’t Do

Brands that do nothing should expect to get back exactly what they give.

On the same tack, a myopic stance—in other words, carrying on without regard for current circumstances—can do irreparable damage to your brand.

You need to look at what’s needed and go where that need dictates. Where, what, how, and why that might be depends on what you do and who your customers are. Certainly, if you just don’t have the money to invest in marketing because of the downturn, there is no reason to bankrupt yourself. However, if you’re still working and you can afford to carry on with your marketing, it will pay off in the long run. Consider it an investment.

If you have no other choice but to reduce your budget, there are ways to keep your brand top-of-mind. You could focus on your social channels, put some effort into content creation, or punch up your website with a new design. And don’t forget, there are plenty of awesome resources out there for you to leverage in the effort to regain your footing.

Accept Help When It’s Offered

Nobody likes to feel vulnerable, but we’re all in the same boat at the moment. It’s the perfect time to explore new technology and find out whether it will work for you.

HubSpot, for example, has recently reduced their rates. The pricing on their Starter Growth Suite is now $50 a month, which reflects a discount of more than 60 percent. They have extended this offer to all customers, both new and existing – an excellent approach when marketing during our current crisis, and something you might think about doing yourself.

They are also offering extended free trials for some of their most popular services and removing limits on calling and sending emails.

Read more about some of the nifty features you can try out to attract leads and contact Gate 39 Media for a personal HubSpot demo.

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Rounding up, if you’ve been thinking about your marketing strategy and wondering if you need to change your approach, there’s never been a better time to make an impact. With a little compassion, authenticity, and a problem-solving approach, you—and your customers—will come out of this stronger than ever.

Reach out today to learn more about what we can do to help.


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