Should You Keep Marketing During a Recession?

April 24, 2020 , In: Business , With: No Comments

Recessions are a part of life. They can wreak havoc on your business unless you plan for them, and you should plan for them. Otherwise, the business you have worked so hard to get up and running will go under.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. While you may feel tempted to pull back on your advertising and other marketing costs during a recession, this is a mistake.

You want to keep your business’s name in front of people, and if you own a small, local business, you’re in a good position to do this. People will always need the services you provide. Here are six marketing and advertising techniques that small businesses, like dentists, landscapers and insurance agents, can implement during a recession.

Doing Business Online to Avoid Recessions and Weather the Storm

There is every incentive for a continued and even enhanced marketing campaign online, especially during any time of crisis, economic or otherwise. We saw many companies successfully doing business online to survive the crisis whether doing business under COVID-19 or going online to weather the storm during the imminent recession we are dealing with now. The online business model should be built in such a fashion, and with a diverse enough audience that going online to weather the storm of Covid-19 is almost irrelevant. Rather, an online business should ensure that there is an ever-present international audience there and marketing is the only way that you can convert that audience into buyers.

1. Leveraging Your Social Media Accounts

Your social media accounts can be worth their weight in gold if you leverage them correctly. They give you the opportunity to reach your clientele in a way that’s interactive and informative. Here are a couple of ways to do this.

First, build your reputation as an expert in your industry by posting useful content on your blog, not only for your customers but also for others in the industry. The Social Media Examiner highlights photographer Scott Jarvie’s site as a perfect example of how to do this.

What makes this site unique is Jarvie’s posts are geared toward helping other photographers, as well as his clients. He shares his knowledge with other photographers. In the process, he turned himself into an industry expert.

For local professionals, like dentists or landscapers like you, your content could highlight dental health or landscaping tips. Or perhaps, you could host a Twitter chat to answer the most common questions that customers ask you.

Finally, be sure to put all of your social media handles on all of your advertising materials and platforms to ensure that your potential clients can find you on social media.

2. Sending Postcards

Due to the proliferation of digital media, it can sometimes be difficult for local business owners to cut through the noise. That’s why postcards still count among the most effective marketing tools around.

Think about it this way. People receive hundreds of emails a day. How many pieces of actual physical mail do you think they receive? The number is probably a lot less than that.

Additionally, there’s something fun about receiving a brightly-colored postcard with a positive message on it. You can take the effect of your postcard even further if you make it useful in some way. For example, print a coupon or a rebate on the postcard that people can redeem for goods and services.

Doing this guarantees that they’ll keep the postcard long after you send it. It may even be that they redeem the coupon during the recession, allowing you to bring in some money and help your customers save money at the same time.

3. Care Packages

Here’s an eye-opener for you. The average Starbucks customer is worth $14,099 over the course of 20 years. That’s a lot of money per person. You can bet that Starbucks takes pretty consistent measures to keep their customers.

If you’re not taking notes, you should. Every customer you have (and retain) has a lifetime value. The question is how do you keep each customer? Some of the niceties that Starbucks uses to keep its coffee customers happy may not work for you if you’re a local dentist or landscaper.

You know what might work, though: a care package. Think about how your customer would react if he or she gets a little box of dental care items or some heirloom seeds on his or her birthday? These little touches are as sweet as they are useful. They also help you reinforce your brand because you’re sending items related to your business.

4. Community Events

When a recession hits, most people will scale back on their entertainment budgets. That’s why sponsoring a community event, like movies on the lawn, can be so effective. It’s a way to get people out and have fun.

We’ll use movies on the lawn as an example. Usually, events like these are held in a park or on the campus of a business. The business provides the movies and a blow-up screen to play the movie on. Community members bring blankets, picnic items and the like and enjoy a free movie under the stars.

You can use the postcard advertising idea in conjunction with an event like this. For example, the postcard is the advertisement. On it, you can offer a free can of soda and a bag of candy to the people who show up. On the big night, you can welcome them before the movie starts.

Any community event can be used this way. It’s a subtle, yet fun way to get people to associate your business with the local community.

5. Charitable Events

This idea takes the above idea one step further in that it benefits a specific group. It’s also a perfect event to do during a recession when many people are struggling to pay bills.

In this case, a charitable event might be a food or clothing drive for the local food bank or homeless shelter. You may also want to give away free services to needy families: Local dentists and doctors are the perfect professionals to provide this service.

It’s also possible to turn this into an annual event. For example, do a food drive each year around the holidays. Hire out a venue and ask local musicians and comedians to provide entertainment for the event.

You can even encourage people to donate items for a raffle, which not only cuts down on your costs, but also helps you spread the word about the event. The individuals and businesses who donate items will be inclined to spread the word, too.

6. Piggyback Marketing

Piggyback marketing is where two businesses who exist in the same or complementary industries share advertising and marketing costs. For example, if you’re a general dentist, you may want to do a marketing campaign with a local orthodontist. Local vets can partner with local gourmet dog treats makers. Landscapers can partner with greenhouses. You get the idea.

Doing this helps you for a couple of reasons. First, you’re not going to pay as much for advertising: Someone else is splitting the cost with you. Second, you broaden your reach. Presumably, each business brings assets, like mailing lists, to the deal.

Final Thoughts on Recession Marketing

It is understandable that you feel reluctant about spending advertising dollars during a recession. After all, you have less money coming in, and you don’t know when the recession will end.

However, not spending on marketing is a mistake. Your business won’t survive a recession without marketing and advertising. It’s the only way that you can truly guarantee that potential customers see your name and hear about your services.

Additionally, not all marketing has to cost a lot of money. Engaging with customers on social media is free. Participating in a piggyback marketing campaign, sending postcards or care packages or having events, like movies on the lawn, are relatively cheap.

Finally, bigger events, like charity campaigns, don’t have to cost a lot of money if you hold them once a year and if you encourage people to donate items for a raffle. However, the goodwill that you create from hosting such an event could last long after the recession is over.