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Marketing During a Recession: What to Cut and What to Keep

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At the time of writing, the consensus among economists is that there will be a recession some time in 2023. It’s impossible to know exactly when it will start and how long it will last.

We do know some things, though: the Euro zone will be hit first due to its high inflation, but no one is safe. The economists predict a global growth rate of only 2.9% in 2022, down from the 4.6% predicted at the beginning of the year.

As consumers adjust to soaring inflation rates, most companies will see their cash flow take a hit. An old cliché says that, in times of recession, cutting down on your marketing budget is a bad idea.

As most clichés, this is half true: you need marketing more than ever to convince clients to keep parting with their diminishing income. However, a quick reality check tells us that you may not have that much money to spend on marketing and advertising.

You will have to make some cuts. Let’s see how you can do that and still grow your business (or, at the very least, keep it afloat).

Dig Deep into Your Analytics and Metrics

If you have been investing in marketing for a while now, you surely have some metrics to analyze. Start there.

You can re-allocate some funds from some of the tactics that haven’t been faring too well to those who bring you most of the clients. To know what is what, make sure you look beyond vanity metrics like traffic and likes: look at money in the bank instead.

Next, look at your best and worst performers. Do you have any channel that hasn’t brought in a dime? Cut that mercilessly. For the rest of them:

Reduce Instead of Cutting

Let’s say your social media isn’t exactly bringing a ton of leads. But it still brings some eyes on your content, which you can then use to convert people.

Don’t cut it altogether – you don’t want your profiles to turn into ghost towns. Just reduce the effort and the budget you invest in the tactics that aren’t direct money-bringers.

A word of caution here: metrics can be deceiving. For example, you may decide to cut down on a tactic that has a high CPA (Cost Per Acquisition). That makes sense at first glance. But what if the customers who come in through this tactic have the highest LTV (Lifetime Value)? Look for context for every metric you analyze.

Zoom in and out alternatively to get the whole picture before you decide on what to cut and what to reduce.

Do More with Less

The kneejerk reflex in tough times is to cut things that cost money. But your and your team’s time is equally valuable.

There are things you can optimize and templatize to help you save time – and then re-invest that time in strategy. For example, start repurposing your content:

  • Turn several blog posts on similar topics into an eBook.
  • Create several blog posts from an eBook.
  • Add an audio version to your blog posts to reach more people.
  • Cut longer videos into shorter ones that you can publish across many platforms.
  • Post parts of your blog posts as Quora answers.
  • Turn blog posts into infographics.

The combinations are limitless here. The goal is to reach a wider audience: there are people who prefer written content, while others respond better to visual or audio content.

You probably have some high-performing pieces of content that can be repurposed already and with minimal effort. Start there.

Go Back to High ROI Basics

In my experience (15+ years in marketing), the best channels in terms of ROI across industries are email and content. I’ve seen and helped build businesses from scratch on these two alone.

While content is not cheap, it’s a worthwhile investment; it’s something that keeps on giving for years. Case in point: one of the blog posts on my agency’s website still brings in quality organic leads. It was posted in 2017. That’s five years of banking on a single well-written blog posts.

Email, on the other hand is cheap. It’s the cheapest communication channel you have with your clients and leads. If you’ve been ignoring your contact list for a while now, it’s time to re-assess.

Start sending regular newsletter and work on growing your list. Third-party platforms like social media networks come and go but your mailing list is yours to keep – you’ll always have access to those contacts.

Need additional help navigating your marketing on a lower budget or building a better strategy? I send a weekly newsletter with analyses, tips, tricks, and advice. Sign up for it here!

The best marketers are those who make it on a shoestring budget. Or those who emerge victorious from a crisis.

Take your time – the recession is not yet fully here. You still have time to analyze, learn, and pivot.

About the author


Adriana Tica

Adriana Tica is a trend analyst, marketer and writer with 15+ years in the field. She owns two digital marketing agencies, Idunn and Copywritech, and a recently-launched consulting business. On SiteProNews, she shares Ideas to Power Your Future on topics like digital trends, marketing, SEO, copywriting, and more.