How to Market Your Business in a Rough Economy

Regardless of the cause of troubled economic times, keeping your business afloat requires a careful focus on not only day-to-day operations, but also the various costs associated with continuing to reach your customers.

If you’re a business owner or marketing professional, you’re likely weighing the benefits of continuing marketing campaigns for your business. It may be tempting to cut costs wherever you can, but if your marketing efforts are continuing to generate a positive return on investment, you may negatively impact your business’s profitability.

Whether you have a robust budget or marketing team, or you self-manage small-budget marketing efforts, there are a lot of great ways to focus your marketing strategy to help your business endure through difficult economic circumstances.

If you have a decent marketing budget, continue the campaigns that are successful.

Our agency uses analytics to measure the value of every lead and calculate ROI for every marketing dollar spent. We suggest regularly auditing your ads to determine their effectiveness. This allows the ability to improve on campaigns that are not meeting goals, and continue to run ads that are meeting your goals. When armed with data, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on how best to allocate your marketing dollars.

While it may be tempting to end your ad campaigns to save money, with proper tools, metrics, and monitoring in place you can ensure your ads and campaigns are paying for themselves. You’ll know if your campaigns are contributing toward keeping business coming through the door, and make informed decisions about whether to keep them running, adapt your messaging, change your strategy, or turn them off altogether.

It’s also important to consider the general state of the marketplace. Competitors might be temporarily shutting their doors or suspending their own ad campaigns. If so, now is the perfect time to capture the prospects they’re leaving behind, and you can do this through ads and email campaigns.

Capitalize on high-value opportunities that may not have been there before.

If you offer a product or service that is especially beneficial during an economic downturn, boosting ad spend can be a very wise investment.

A recent report by MediaRadar analyzed video-conferencing communication tools like Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Slack Technologies and Zoom Video Communications, and found that current ad spend for these companies is double what it was at this time last year. Their efforts are working, as their performance has surged while the market as a whole has dropped.

Other growing industries include 3D printing and prototyping and hand sanitizer manufacturing. If your business has a hot product that consumers want, investing more in ads now could pay dividends later. Positioning your product or service to make consumers aware of its usefulness can be a great way to generate website traffic and leads.

If there is a sharp increase in consumption of a particular media type, and other advertisers have pulled their ads, now might be a time to get in on the action.

Survey the current advertising trends in a down market and see if any can be used to help market your business in new ways you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

In the case of the current COVID-19 crisis, media consumption is up since the outbreak, and it’s primarily video-based. 87% of U.S. consumers say they’re consuming more content – broadcast TV, online videos, and online TV streaming take the top spots overall for increased media consumption. But a poor economy means that businesses are spending less, including on television advertisements.

Recurring commercials are an indication that there is a lack of television ad inventory, meaning that there might be discounted TV advertising opportunities. With an increase in viewership and a decrease in competition, television advertising might prove to be a valuable marketing opportunity that offers a positive return on investment.

Similarly, if people are more regularly checking social media for updates, but competitors have reduced their ad spend, you have a better chance to get your ads in front of more eyes. Brand awareness ads for a particularly helpful product or service will show the value of your business and can generate leads.

If your budget or staff has been cut, get back to basics and “trim the fat.”

For many business owners, a time of great crisis calls for an equally great response to stay afloat. But a reduced budget or smaller staff does not mean that you can no longer reach prospects, convert them into leads, and close sales. There are still ways to generate revenue, even with a more limited budget.

Quickly adapt your marketing strategy to current events and get creative with no-spend and low-spend efforts.

Prioritize marketing strategies that will give you the most bang for your buck. Depending on what brings in the most business for your company, you may want to put heavy rebranding and creative experiments on hold while you dedicate your budget to lead generation.

If there’s anything that’s “nice to have,” or something that takes up more time but isn’t part of the essential day-to-day marketing for your business, table it until the dust settles. Focus on what you know brings in the bacon for your business.

Whether it’s tapping into your “satisfied customer” database for positive reviews, being active on social media, hosting digital events, holding giveaway contests, or reworking your content, there are still many steps you can take to grow your business through low-spend and no-spend marketing efforts.

Revisit old prospects and reconsider the industries that you generally target. If you have an untapped database of old leads, reach out to them. You may have previously considered them nonviable, but those people might still be in the market for the product or service that you offer.

Another way that you can generate more leads is to target flourishing industries. Companies and customers that are relatively unaffected by the economic shutdown are likely to be less conservative with their budget. These are the people toward whom you should dedicate more sales resources.

You should also consider unconventional or more basic lead generation tactics that are tried and true, and relatively inexpensive. For example, if you’re a real estate agent you might find success by placing cold calls to generate leads.

Make the most out of the time and resources you have available.

You also create unique marketing value by creatively leveraging your team’s (or your own) knowledge and skills to create new, evergreen content for use in your campaigns.

If you’re temporarily suspending more costly marketing efforts, you can shift your focus to content generation, as helpful videos, blogs, and website content are always good ways to establish your business as an informational resource.

Blogs and other informational content like videos or instruction guides that draw on the experience of your staff require only research, writing, and in the case of video, filming, so they are cost effective ways to connect with your audience. This content can be added to your website, email campaigns, and social media content lineup as well.

Online education opportunities are endless, and in many cases free.

There are a number of free online digital marketing classes available for just about anything you want to learn how to do. They are not all created equal, however, and can at times be overwhelming for those new to digital marketing. If you’re a beginner, start with the entry level courses and work your way up.

We suggest HubSpot Academy’s Inbound Marketing Certification for a great overview of inbound marketing and its guiding principles, which might spark new, inexpensive marketing ideas.

A time of crisis may be a time to return to your roots.

Chances are, in a rough economy, consumers will be less likely to pay premium prices for your product or service, especially if they can go elsewhere for a similar, lower-cost offering. If you regularly charge premium prices, or only accept your most ideal customers, now is the time to align yourself with the current market.

Taking on small projects, offering tiered packages, and performing services you typically don’t can all generate revenue. If your regular prospect pool is no longer full, temporarily shifting strategy to capture potential customers outside your normal scope of work can be a financial boon in the short term.

Anticipate the needs of your current customers to curb any preventable turnover.

There’s nothing like a crisis to add a large magnifying glass to the work that you’re doing. Apply even more attention to detail than usual to make sure nothing casts a shade of doubt in your customers’ minds. You may want to add value to your products that you may not have before the crisis.

Being responsive will make the difference with a customer who may be trying to decide if your products or services are juice that’s worth the squeeze. Over-delivering in a time of crisis will set you apart and keep your long-term partners at your side.

You may also consider offering discounts or value adds to your customer base to encourage retention, and show your support to those experiencing hardship. Many auto insurers, for example, have been offering customers a discount, or returning a percentage of their monthly premium as a rebate.

Focus on retention, and consider the consequences of cutting ties.

If your customers have to make cutbacks, consider offering to do a different set of services, or to pause services (rather than cancelling) as this will keep the lines of communication open, and encourage them to reach out to you when they run into a problem where you can help.

Educate your customers on what resources are available to them to help shift their mindset away from feeling defeated. Direct them toward programs or resources that can help them.

Making the process of pausing your services as easy and friendly as possible can be a great professional investment. This might also be a great time to make the most of the partnership you have with your customers. Can they give you a great review? Keep in mind that they may be taking on the difficult tasks that you usually make seamless, and that will remind your customers of your value.

Once the storm has passed, your customers will be more likely to return and have positive things to say about your partnership.

Regardless of your budget, audit the tone, messaging and sensitivity of all your campaigns and communications.

Remember to be human with your marketing. Keep the reality of the current pandemic in the forefront of your mind with ads, communication with clients and customers, and deliverables. Monitor your communications and stay sensitive when it counts. The last thing you want is backlash following insensitive marketing campaigns, which companies are experiencing all across the country.

Stay helpful and relevant, and anticipate the needs of your target audience. Make sure all of the information you’re communicating is empathetic and accurate.

Navigating a crisis or economic downturn is tough on everyone. Remember: You’re not alone!

Businesses and entire industries all across the country are experiencing similar pain. In a crisis, marketing strategies that have worked for years may not be working now.

This is why investing some time and energy into reworking your marketing strategy can be what helps your business not only stay afloat, but recover and ultimately thrive as the economy improves.

A successful marketing strategy now can pay dividends both in the short and long term. Continuing to market your business when times are toughest can be a key differentiator between businesses which fail, and those which are able to not only survive the chaos, but expand into market share surrendered by competitors. And there are ways to accomplish this with and without a huge budget.

If you have any questions about these strategies, Post Modern Marketing is always here to help! Contact us and we’ll be happy to offer tips and ideas.