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26,978 UK Businesses Went Bust in 2008’s Crash: 4 Creative Marketing Approaches to Avoid a Similar Fate for Firms in 2024

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The 2008 financial crash proved to be a profoundly difficult time for businesses in virtually every sector. However, modern marketing strategies have evolved to equip adaptable businesses with excellent lead-generation tools. Could creative marketing help firms avoid the economic hardships of a recession in 2024?

As the United Kingdom continues to tussle with the prospect of a recession, economic experts are divided over whether or not a downturn is on the way. While inflation rates are beginning a gradual fall back to calmer levels, the assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Warner warned that an “economic decline is coming.”

For many businesses, the cost-of-living crisis has hit sales volumes already as a downturn could force more consumers to batten down the hatches and curb unnecessary spending. 

With famous investor Michael Burry, the inspiration for The Big Short after betting against the US housing market in 2008, appearing to launch another ‘big short’ in anticipation of a recession ahead, it’s certainly worth firms seeking to learn from the lessons of the past. 

According to an Independent article from December 2009, as many as 26,978 businesses went into liquidation or had been declared insolvent since the beginning of the recession in Q2 2008. The downturn lasted for more than a year and proved a stern test for businesses worldwide. 

Should another recession hit, it’s inevitable that more businesses will be forced to close, but there are plenty of ways in which firms can continue to earn conversions and sales even as consumer spending falls. 

With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at four creative marketing approaches to empower the businesses of today to avoid becoming the latest victims of an economic downturn: 

1. Build Authority with Guest Posting

Trust can be an important topic among customers when times are tough and every purchase means a lot more to the pocket of the buyer. 

This means that you’ll need to focus on building both your presence and authority online. While there are many ways that can help to grow your visibility, promote your products and services, or improve your traffic, none perform better than guest posting.

Why is guest posting so important for UK businesses in a recession? In creating quality content with backlinks driving traffic from a reputable publisher, your organic traffic will be immediately more trusting of your business having come from a popular referral site. 

In addition to this, you can position yourself as a voice of authority within your industry by having your content published on a high-ranking domain featuring you as an author.

Finally, search engine crawlers will come to view your website more favourably if you begin to accumulate backlinks from high-reputation websites. 

But how can you begin your guest posting journey? It’s important to share your industry knowledge on a topic that your target audience will find engaging. By embedding a keyworded backlink to your brand, you can position your business as a leading solution to industry issues or pain points for customers. 
Finding a host website for your guest post can be difficult if you don’t know where to look, but tools like Ahrefs can be a great resource for discovering potential publications that will accept your content.

Let’s say you’re a business that specialises in gardening equipment, and have identified GardenersWorld as a leading online resource for all things gardening. By exploring on Ahrefs it’s possible to view their dofollow backlinks in order of Domain Rating (DR) and even host site language. 

This helps to provide you with a list of websites that are publishing backlinks to an industry-relevant website. 

Although it can be tricky to offer your content to the highest DR websites, there will be plenty of options for all kinds of websites that post industry-relevant content that you can outreach to in order to secure a guest post. 

Many websites will have contacts pages that can put you in touch with editors while some websites allow you to publish content directly to their pages. When outreaching your content, it’s worth introducing yourself and explaining why your content could be relevant to them before sharing your suggestions for posts. 

While this process can be time-consuming, guest blogging agencies like Solvid can help streamline the process. Solvid has helped some of the most prominent brands in the world generate quality backlinks using guest blogging campaigns. 

Solvid is the only agency to offer placements on DR90+ and DA80+ websites, helping businesses reach the front page of the internet. Although you would need a decent budget to be able to get on some of the world’s most prominent publications, Solvid can help you get there. 

2. Host Competitions

Though the notion of giving away products or services for free during a recession may not seem like the best financial idea, competitions can be a great way of boosting brand awareness and earning mailing list conversions that could bring more purchase intent later on. 

In a recession, customers can be more receptive to the prospect of winning products for free and could be more motivated to enter competitions online. 

Competitions are also a great way of generating a social media buzz, and by encouraging your followers to send user-generated content (UGC), you’ll have the potential to attract a far greater audience while gaining valuable content that can be reposted online for free. 

One great way of building engagement on social media through competitions is by hosting a caption contest with a freebie as a prize. This helps you to welcome plenty of UGC that can then be reposted to help promote further engagement with your brand.  

Other options could involve offering a prize for a customer who shares pictures of themselves using your product or creating funny images or videos with your products. 

Alternatively, tag-a-friend contests, and ‘like and repost’ competitions where users simply share your competition with a larger audience can all work well in boosting brand awareness at a relatively low cost. 

3. Embrace Video Marketing

Content may be king, but its power goes into overdrive during a recession where customers are less likely to be spending their free time travelling or trying their hand at activities. 

When consumer spending falls, the engaging content businesses churn out becomes a key source of engagement. 
According to HubSpot data, 50% of consumers would like to see marketers produce more video content, and this is only likely to increase in a cost-of-living crisis as users become more accustomed to video platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

The great thing about video content is that it’s a far less competitive environment to rank for. As we can see above, a Google query on ‘caring for your garden’ returns 1.46 billion results. Notice the video results at the bottom of the screenshot above? Well, a Google video search for the same term returns 206 million results–around 14% as competitive as the original search and still with the potential of landing on the search engine’s front page. 

It’s also possible to utilise video across different platforms, and whether you want to demonstrate a product on YouTube, share an unboxing experience on Facebook, offer an industry-relevant tutorial on Twitter, or explain a trending news story on LinkedIn, there are many different types of content and host websites you can utilise to keep your audience engaged and to build value in your brand. 

4. Personalisation Is Imperative in a Downturn

During the chaotic years punctuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of London noted that a ‘consumer awakening’ took place whereby individuals became more expectant of shared brand values and a more personable touch from businesses. 

Recessions can be highly tumultuous times for millions of consumers, and as financial headwinds gather momentum, brands showcasing their more human side can resonate far better. 

Think about each customer individually, and add a personal touch within your marketing techniques that can help them feel as though you’re reserving special attention for them. 

This can be undertaken by using your existing website data and by building knowledge of which products and pages the visitor has viewed already. You can optimise their experience based on this background knowledge by showing them their favourite products. 

You can also create a personalised advertising strategy focused on retargeting your customers to bring them back to your pages. 

The best way to deliver more personalised marketing is through mailing lists. Whenever you send emails to your recipients, you should address them by their name as standard while paying careful attention to their interests, likes, and dislikes to help them feel more cared for. 

Recessions are a Cause to Market Smarter

Marketing in a recession should be about working smarter, rather than reinvesting your budgets or reinventing the wheel. 

Showing that you care about your customers and providing them with valuable content at a time when they may be feeling negatively about the economic outlook can help to provide a valuable service that helps them to feel valued at a time when circumstances may be getting the better of them. 

With almost 27,000 UK businesses succumbing to the 2008 market crash, a future downturn will herald a dangerous period for brands seeking to stay afloat. In showing that you care for your customers with creative and engaging marketing, your business will stand the best chance of having its customers care for you in return.

About the author


Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

Rebecca is a freelance journalist and multi-media marketing executive, specialising in the future of SEO marketing and UX design in business growth.